When client service is code for “actually, we don’t care that much”
The relationship between financial intermediary and client is based of course on trust and integrity.
When we say we are going to do something for a client that trust and integrity is maintained and enhanced when those actions are delivered in a timely fashion.
They are reduced, or even lost, when failure to deliver occurs.
As an intermediary we sit between two parties; on the right hand side of us sits our client, on the left the financial product provider whose holds the client’s money.
Failure on the part of the financial product provider to provide information, process documentation or even pay out client benefits, helps to destroy the client/adviser relationship.
In this day and age technology driven service should be of an exceptionally high standard. Sadly, it is not.
I suspect that in the desire to make all aspects of the client, intermediary, product relationship an “on a screen near you” event, product providers fail to recognise the importance of the human interaction.
If it was possible for all aspects of the systems and processes needed to complete a financial product transaction to be “on-line” that would be fine, but that is not the case.
Some transactions need paper.
Take for example the simple act of transferring an ISA product from one provider to another. It is usually the case that a discharge document of some type needs to be signed by the client authorising such a transfer.
Imagine the receiving product provider has a service level standard that says such a discharge form will be dealt with in five working days of receipt. That provider might think this is rather good. The client and the intermediary will disagree.
A five day service level to deal with this piece of paper sends out a very clear message to both client and intermediary. That message is “actually, we don’t care that much”.
Put bluntly this service level is simply not good enough.
A well managed, well resourced product provider should be able to competently deal with such a request within 24 hours of receiving it.
Five days by the way is by no means the longest time frame for such a “service standard”.
It is not just the financial services product providers who have this “don’t care” attitude. Amongst the worst offenders are the administration teams of occupational pension schemes.
I fully appreciate that pensions are for the long term but administrators should not hide behind this fact, service delivery is a short term deliverable.
People need to be able to get on with their lives, they cannot do this if they are made to wait for important information, they also cannot get on with their lives if they are made to wait for their money!
As efficient as the back office system of an intermediary firm is it is all about the ”chain only being as strong as its weakest link”.
Some of the links out there are very weak indeed.