...one day they'll grow up.
The now waning novelty of lockdown has, of course, led to a number of new routines in our household. One is the Early Morning Walk. The alarm yanks us out of a deep sleep around 6.00am and, after a little essential preparation, we're off for our brisk walk around the lake opposite. I have learned to take my camera with me - the light at this time is magical, and you come across quite a few beautiful images which interrupt the exercise.
Such as these little dollops of cuteness - four, newly-hatched goslings, all blinking and cheeping dozily in the first rays of sunshine. I have carefully shown them alongside their Mum, who was standing warily alongside them, and had her beady eye on me. The parents are anything but cute. Even without needy babies to justify their behaviour, they are prone to all kinds of aggressions, apparently for no discernible reason, all the year round. Those little cutie-pies on the left will, in a blink of an eye, grow into the altogether more formidable item on the right. The type on the left you can cuddle and coo over. The type on the right you'll need to go with to A&E to have surgically removed from your derrière.
No rocket-science there, then. But (perhaps) you'd be amazed to learn of the sheer number of times seasoned Advisers have justified some key omissions on their client files with lines like "Oh, he's a great person - and is very grateful for what we've done for him", or "So and so was recommended by my sister, and understands that we've done her a considerable favour". The implication is that people like that would never, ever dream of making a complaint against the adviser - but the fact is that it is always people like that who do so. There's no default profile of a complainant which mandates that they have to be multiple-murderers, with a homicidal gleam in their eye, clutching a bottle of poison in one hand and a bloody hatchet in the other.
There are really only two components to that 'default profile' of a complainant: (1) a sense of grievance which is sufficient to motivate them to do something, and (2) a very, very easy point of access to the means of turning that grievance into pound notes. That grievance may be based on something substantive - the adviser missed something important, didn't listen to them carefully enough, misrepresented some advisory component sufficient to disadvantage them, or failed to deliver on a promise - that kind of thing. Or it may be based upon the kind of manufactured hearsay we encounter continually in the less-well-informed media, or in the kinds of advertisements placed by CMCs and ambulance chasers, all of which are designed to convey the message that, if a person is dissatisfied with some aspect of his or her life, then someone else needs to pay for it. There's an awful lot of that about at the present time. One might say that there is a positive pandemic of it.
And, as all of us have discovered over the years, there are people who work for regulatory bodies who see their role in life as dispensing largesse, using someone else's chequebook to do it. They're not really interested in facts, other than as inconvenient obstacles to be avoided, en route to creating another satisfied claimant. It behoves the responsible adviser to keep this kind of awareness continually in mind - not so that we end up regarding every client with a jaundiced eye of suspicion, but rather so that we do a good job on our due-diligence, documentation of advice and general compliance - because that's what helps to define our professional role.