Lifesearch slams providers for ‘institutional petty theft’

Lifesearch chief executive Tom Baigrie has blasted providers for taking part in “institutional petty theft” by dealing with intermediaries’ clients behind their back.

Speaking at the 10th annual Lifesearch awards in London this week, Baigrie said providers should respect the relationship intermediaries have with their clients by contacting them if their customer approaches the provider directly.

He said: “What about respecting the relationship that we, the distributor, have with our customer? So when the customer calls you up to change something to do with their policy, because it is your name they see on the policy each month, what about instead of stealing them off us, what about telling us what has happened, crediting us for what has happened and ensuring we have had a look at what has happened and decide it is right for our customer?

“They are our customer, we sent them to you. You should not hide, as some of you do, behind system deficits and, others of you, behind some very convenient approach to TCF, in pretending to police our relationship with our customer, when finding fault with us profits you. We are coming after this and we are calling it institutional petty theft.”

Baigrie also called on providers to improve client retention by offering customers incentives and making it easier for advisers to place policies in trust.

He said: “You might like to think about trying to retain your customers better rather than just shouting at me when I move them away to someone else. What about loyalty discounts? What about other incentives, like PruProtect does with its Vitality programme? And that is increasingly effective.

“What about allowing us to place policies in trust electronically? Not with an envelope and a stamp and some ink and a document from the 1970s.”