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Comment: Signposting can be beneficial for all

Any idea what ‘signposting’ means? It’s when you decide you can’t help a customer and take the trouble to direct them accurately onto someone who can.

For you, that could be those whose credit score doesn’t match the mortgages you like to arrange, in my world of protection insurance it could be those who you can see need cover when you don’t offer it; or if you do, those whose medical history leaves you uncertain you can get them a good deal.

It’s how the FCA and DWP want us to help disadvantaged consumers get the advice they need. And though it might make a bit of extra work for you and me, if we do it right that could be quite profitable work. And doing good while making a profit is the best business.

You wouldn’t be unusual if it is your habit to send customers you can’t help on their way as quickly as possible so as to get on with the business you actually can do.

But it’s the regulators’ job to turn virtue into necessity, and they are rightly asking us to care for those we can’t help by signposting them to specialists who can. That seems a useful social good we can all be proud to deliver, and an important one too.

This is especially true when you understand that the initiative arose because of the huge number of complaints the FCA receive from people with pre-existing medical conditions who are not able to go on holidays because they can’t buy affordable travel insurance, when in fact there are plenty of brokers out there who could help them. The customers just couldn’t find them amidst the many who seek to cover the easy to underwrite.

The DWP has responsibility for ensuring disabled people gain ever easier access to the things the rest  of us take for granted, and they will be highlighting the need for us all to think about this on ‘Purple Tuesday’, 13 November.

It’s all about retail stores this first year, but the movement to do good has started, so why not get ahead of the game as BIBA have done in GI. Their ‘Find a Broker’ service redirected over 500,000 people last year to the right broker for their situation. And as you aren’t not-for-for-profit like they are, you could set up revenue sharing arrangements with the lucky recipients of your referrals and turn a good deed into a business.

Tom Baigrie is chief executive of LifeSearch

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