This article was originally published July 2018
I know it is quite topical to be critical of financial institutions with the Royal Commission in progress, but after three instances this week I thought I might as well weigh into the debate.
It is disturbing to say that there seems to be an increasing disconnect between service providers (more specifically their call centres or support areas) and clients’ interests in too many cases. A lot of the time, when dealing with these service providers, I am finding they seem to forget the person I am working with is not just my client, but theirs as well.
Now to get specific. Some of this might be a little too detailed for “non-industry” readers but hopefully the key points come through okay.
AMP Insurance — wrong information
I have a client who wanted to move an insurance policy from being owned by his self-managed super fund to him personally. Normally a simple process.
I asked AMP how to do this. We discussed in depth the policy he had and what I want to do. I was given a clear answer of what was needed in terms of the paperwork.
But I was too trusting — I was given the wrong information. Weeks later after meeting the client, doing the long paperwork process and lodging the request, I am told the ownership of the policy cannot be changed.
I worked out I had spent at least 5 hours on this, so I asked for compensation which, as expected, was dismissed almost jokingly as if I was foolish to even ask the question.
Our client pays AMP $12,000 p.a. and has for over 10 years. I have just lost at least $1,000 of time.
At least I know where the new policy won’t be written.
Asgard (Westpac) — all care, no responsibility
In the next case, there was clear admission of two associated errors.
Asgard (a super fund provider owned by Westpac) incorrectly paid a client a second account-based pension payment for the financial year. Because the pension had already been paid as scheduled, there was not a lot of cash in his account.
Therefore, to get cash for the additional incorrect pension payment, they sold down around 10% of his portfolio without notification. When I discovered the error of the pension payment and organised the cash to go back in, Asgard did not bother mentioning the asset sales.
When I realised the additional error and asked for them to look at whether our client was disadvantaged by their error, they offered to do a “courtesy calculation to determine the impact”. But only if I acknowledged the following and was prepared to wait 4-6 weeks:
We confirm that Asgard will not be responsible or liable for any actions, suits, claims, demands or obligations in respect to the calculation result.
Unsurprisingly, I was not very impressed with their offer and have suggested they may wish to reconsider and actually put the client’s interests ahead their own.
I think I know what the client will think of Asgard when they read this article. Anyone know a good alternative wrap provider?
Macquarie and Zurich — such a simple fix
The final situation is simply a matter of a single piece of missing information.
A client has a Macquarie superannuation account, which used to have a Macquarie insurance policy attached to it. I was the adviser on both. When Macquarie sold their insurance business to Zurich recently, my details as the adviser on the account were not transferred. This means Zurich do not have me as the adviser on the policy and hence will not provide any information.
In this instance, time was critical as the client needed to know a premium amount to pay to make sure their cover did not lapse while they were overseas.
I am very understanding that admin errors happen. We all make mistakes as I have written about previously. But after at least 8 emails and 4 phone calls, I was left with it being my job to “fix” the problem by getting my client to sign a form saying I am their adviser.
Again, I’ve spent many hours trying to help our client, yet neither Macquarie nor Zurich have stepped up offering to correct their mistake. Again, I have asked for compensation which I am sure is amusing someone at Macquarie right now.
Losing sight of the client
These three examples show that clients, as people, are often forgotten. And when I talk with service providers, there is a definite us versus them mentality becoming more prevalent. We should all be on the same side — clients, advisers, and service providers — working together to achieve the clients’ financial goals, as opposed to me often being in an adversarial position trying to get the client looked after as they should be.
To any “industry participants” reading this, the next time you are talking about investors, members or policy owners, please stop to remember they are people who are trusting you and paying you to do a job and are entitled to receive the care and service that comes with being a client.
This article is the opinion of the writer and does not consider the circumstances of any individual. This document has been prepared by Peter Keogh (Authorised Representative No. 253538 of Paragem Pty Ltd AFSL 297276) and is intended to be a general overview of the subject matter. The document is not intended to be comprehensive and should not be relied upon as such. We have not taken into account the individual objectives or circumstances of any person. Legal, financial and other professional advice should be sought prior to applying the information contained in this document. No responsibility is accepted by Peter Keogh, Paragem or its officers.