While an apology may be due because the photo on the left is a lot scarier than the previous incumbent's, none will be forthcoming for what could, in places, be seen as something of a one-track issue. The unprepossessing little acronym, TCF, is to be found in this month's Viewpoint on page 4, in our Adviser Clinic on page 18 and in the RealAdviser Inquiry on page 38.
The idea of Treating Customers Fairly may contain a whiff of this Government's trademark nanny mentality - "Johnny, don't bite Billy. Treat him fairly" - and, in its way, it is terrifying that an industry so reliant on repeat business should need the regulator to tell it that raising service standards might be a nice idea. Still, if that is what it takes, so be it.
As the RealAdviser Inquiry makes abundantly clear, the collapse of the with-profits market may have left the once proud life office sector resembling the sad sight of so many dead badgers at the side of a motorway but the advice industry has a few sentiment issues of its own to address.
Investment house Arjent recently used the findings of a survey - that consumers saw advisers as the biggest source of poor financial advice - as a way to suggest more advisers should consider alternative investments for their clients. Guess what one of Arjent's specialities might be.
A few interesting points arise here - not least the use of 'IFA' in the survey as a blanket term for financial adviser and the question of whether having a pop at advisers is the most cunning way to get them on your side. Then there was the "shoot the messenger" response to a piece published on the subject by RealAdviser's sister website, IFAonline.
The financial services industry is like no other in that product providers and intermediaries often work far more closely together than intermediaries and end-users but financial advice only has a future if it follows the example of, say, Tesco as the intermediary in another industry. It's sad the FSA has had to get involved but it certainly has a point. On the issue of improving customer service, you are either in or you are out.
Julian Marr, editorial director, RealAdviser
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