Who is being served?

Sometimes, it pays to take the long view, perhaps to hold back on the irritation or sheer frustration involved when dealing with product-providers.

There are good reasons for such an approach.  Firstly, because in my more honest moments, I recognise that I may not exactly have cornered the market in efficiency and accuracy - so perhaps it is simply safer to back-off laying into other people for their perceived shortcomings.  It is quite conceivable that a bout of self-righteous venting against my point of contact with a product-provider may actually show that at least part of the blame for a delay or miscommunication or error could be laid at my door.

I have, of course, met a few people in my life who are, apparently, incapable of error - but they are so rare (and obnoxious) that, quite clearly, one would not want to be even faintly associated with them.

And there are other, pragmatic, reasons for restraint.  I have discovered, through recent experience, that my own policy of patience and persistence, coloured by courtesy, and the regular expressions of appreciation, does actually bear fruit - especially if I am prepared to keep at it.  I know other IFAs who seem to have much shorter fuses, and very rapidly escalate matters to formal complaints, threats and bluster - but it seems to me that very little is actually achieved by such strategies, other than a significant hike in blood-pressure.

A recent incident with a SIPP-provider was salutary.  I would not ordinarily deal with this company, but the FOS has decreed redress for a client of one of our ARs, and we have been seeking to progress this matter carefully.  In this instance, delays arose because of the interaction between (a) the FOS's unworldly and unworkable expectations and (b) the SIPP-provider's misreporting of assets.  It didn't seem to me to be rocket-science to confirm the data that I had, but even so it took nearly two weeks and five telephone calls (from me) to get the answers.

My point of contact appreciated that I had been patient, and courteous.  I was not palmed-off in the shortest time imaginable.  Indeed, this person appeared to be thinking proactively through the practical implications of the FOS' impractical adjudication.  The SIPP-provider had no processes in place to accommodate it (nor had I expected this to be the case), but was inclined to take the matter away to senior management to work out an effective game-plan.  My point of contact realised very swiftly that the way in which the FOS reaches its determinations, focuses all the risk upon the intermediary, very often creating a new, utterly unmanageable set of circumstances - but she wanted to help, and went away in order to do so.

We have not reached the end of the process, but I am encouraged that I appear to be working with a party to the issue who understands the principles and dangers, and who sees their part in delivering a solution.  This is a refreshing change from the regulatory bodies which appear not to want to be bothered either by the detail, or by principle.  I am very glad that I took a deep breath, and did not succumb to "them negative waves" (Oddball, in Kelly's Heroes).
Kevin Moss, 07/06/2013