Money Box this week reported on several stories which raise questions about trust: the revelation that cheques never clear, Standard Life's mortgage endowment promise, hidden remortgaging costs and difficult choices over state pensions.
Do you trust the financial services industry?
What could companies do to rebuild customer confidence?
Or do you think the industry does its best to look after consumers?
Banks used to make money like any other business - by taking risks. Today they do no such thing, preferring to charge with no risk to themselves at all.
People should never forget that this industry relies on the financial illiteracy and lack of inertia of most of us for its profits. The best thing ordinary people can do is to educate themselves about the products they need - banking, investments and borrowing - and then only buy the products that are right for them, and the most competitive.
How many people still pay interest on their current account? How many pay over the odds for their mortgage or other borrowings, or get mediocre returns on their savings? If in doubt, always take advice from a registered independent financial advisor (not a bank, building society or other party with a vested interest). If we're being taken for a ride, it's because we're making it all too easy for a profit-driven, highly competitive financial services sector.
My six mortgage endowments are worth next to nothing; two pension plans the same. I'm being taxed to ensure public sector workers get a better pension deal than me! The industry is just a big game using our money. Follow their advice and save more for your retirement with Gordon Brown taking six billion a year out at the other end? You must be joking!
It has all become a bit of a sad joke really. I gather than banks can actually reclaim cheque money for up to six years. If that is true, the whole of the cheque guarantee system is a complete sham. But then recent events show that what some poor folk thought was a guaranteed pension system turned out to be a sham and left them without funds in retirement. As to who you can trust? That, sadly, is an increasingly difficult question to answer.
Not one bit! They are experts in small print, and in selling "products" that are expensive, poor performing and designed to benefit them more than the customer. The best financial advise for most people would be to pay down debt before saving, but you will never hear a financial company says this! Remember, no one looks after your money better than you do!
I never trusted the financial industry in the first place! It is amazing it takes this to break people's trust, following the misselling of pensions and morgages, the collape of pensions and morgages, the hidden changes, the high interest rates, the cash machines charges, the repossessions...
I have various investments, some long-term, including endowments, and amounts on deposit. My children ask for advice from time to time on where to deposit and invest their savings to provide for future needs. When you look at the extent to which self-serving financial companies take the money and give no guarantees, the only sound advice is to tell them not to trust any of these companies, as they all seem to be able to renege on promises with impunity.
Also, we have the current obscene posturing with endowments, where the calculations, apparently imposed by FSA, indicate future values based on impossibly high rates of return - pure cloud-cuckoo land. How can you place any trust when the deceit is so blatant?
Nigel S Evans
Recently the company I work for banked a cheque for £3,450, but the cashier keyed in £2,450. As we use internet banking the error was spotted very quickly. The bank told us it could do nothing about this; the transaction was completed and the client's account debited £2,450. We then had to contact the client and ask for another cheque for £1,000.
We photocopy every cheque received by our business and were able to use our copy to prove what had been paid in (other businesses may find this a useful thing to do). So much for clawing back monies if fraud is involved, but not if banking errors have occurred. We were told by a reliable source that cheques valued at less than £10,000 are never even looked at in the banking system.
The financial services sector has not served its customers well over the years. This is because the whole distribution of financial services products has been built around a sales culture.
Salespeople talk up the positive side of products and are economical about negative aspects. If they did not do this they would not sell a lot less products and would be out of a job.
It is up to consumers to adopt the attitude of "caveat emptor" (let the buyer beware). If they do not fully understand what they are buying, they shouldn't buy it.
In most cases the title financial adviser is a misnomer and the correct title should be financial product salesperson. Because very little advice is given and the real purpose of most meetings is for the salesperson to sell the customer a product which generates commission.
I find it staggering that the same companies who invented these endowment policies are now being allowed to walk away from their committments with a pathetic shrug of their shoulders: "it's not our problem". Does the FSA have no teeth? Does Standard Life have no shame? I would never invest in a long-term financial service product again.
This just proves how much the cheque clearing system stinks. It's time the whole APACS system was dragged into the 21st century.
Mr M Parker
The revelation that a cleared cheque is not a cleared cheque comes as no surprise, given the way the financial services industry has been treating its customers over the past few years. As usual, you can have decent service - by paying extra, to ensure that funds are not credited to your account until they really are cleared. But if you don't ask and you don't pay, you - the consumer - take the risk.
I wonder whether the next revelation might be that BACS transfers (used to pay millions of workers' salary every month) are subject to the same uncertainty? Once my salary is in my account, is it safe to spend it, or do I need to wait five days?
I, for one, no longer trust the Financial Services industry at all. The whole investment process on the stock market is nothing but a casino, and they're playing with OUR money. They constantly lie, cheat and deceive us and when they occasionally get caught out, they simply move the goal posts.
And as for the Ombudsman Service, how are we supposed to accept that it is independent when it is paid for by the very industry it is supposed to be overseeing? The whole system is rotten to the core and if there was any alternative, I'd withdraw every penny and have nothing to do with any of them.
Certainly, I have lost trust in financial services. I have two endowments and pensions with different financial companies. What strikes me as absolutely appalling is that these companies have no commitment actually to deliver anything. They change the goal posts as they see fit, charge for the privilege of doing so, and then do not live up to their "promises".
They (the financial services) appear not to be responsible for anything they subsequently do. What prevents these companies just running off after 10-15 years, leaving all customers in the lurch? Until these financial services regularly deliver, they are going to be seen as an unregulated, money-grabbing industry.
I have found that, in more than 40 years, all financial institutions including banks only look after their own interests, to obtain your custom.
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