Snow bound a couple of weeks ago, I set to musing about the FSA's paper on pension switching advice and the recently issued suitability assessment template.
Looking at the failings identified, I wondered whether they were predictable or whether we should be shocked at the basic nature of errors seemingly made by some advisers. On balance, I came down on the side of 'predictable' despite the fact that the requirements necessary for advising on pensions switching have been around for more years than I care to remember.
Just as the snow was not only predicted but predictable many of us were still adversely impacted, local authorities failed to have sufficient salt to grit roads and certainly in my home area, the Hampshire/Wiltshire borders, unless you lived near a main road you had little, if no hope of travelling anywhere. Why is it that we fail to heed warnings signs or follow, what to the man on the Clapham omnibus, can only be common sense requirements?
In all aspects of life we seem incapable of following what are often a set of simple rules or guidelines; we ignore the predictable and carry on regardless. Why should this be so? It is inconceivable that any business would set out to create regulatory issues for itself, much as it is inconceivable that local authorities set out to cause their residents innumerable problems and discomfort when bad weather hits. Could it perhaps be that we face so many rules and so much bureaucracy in our every day lives that we are unable to keep up with the ever increasing flood of requirements and even in our name and blame culture something just has to give. We become numb to issues, not surprising given the media overload, the need to fill hours of television which inevitably leads to doom and gloom and more and more graphic coverage of horrific events.
Does anyone else remember Damien Day in Drop the Dead Donkey, the reporter who knew no bounds, always looking for the next sensational piece? At the time it was funny, now it's reality; a caricature brought to life. Perhaps this is why we are not shocked at the matters that should shock us. The inability to give acceptable advice should shock, much as failure to keep the country running in winter weather should shock. Perhaps the advent of Spring will wake us all up, or will this year deliver more of the same?
Shirley Hylands is director and company secretary at Rowanmoor PensionsIFAonline
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