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Hide & Seek

24 November 2023

Ahh, providers and Letters of Authority…  

Give yourself a point for every one of the following situations you’ve faced:

  • The provider claims that they haven’t received the LOA, even though you have an auto-generated email from them confirming receipt of said LOA.
  • The person you spoke to yesterday checked the LOA, but the person you are speaking to today claims there is no LOA. 
  • Despite asking the provider a range of thoughtful and precise questions about the policy, they have ignored that and sent you a standard information pack with none of the answers you requested.
  • After months of ‘lost’ LOA’s and denials about receiving the LOA, the provider finally acknowledges that they have received the LOA, but then tells you it is now out of date.
  • The provider tells you their service standards are now measured in months and doesn’t even blush.
  • The person on the end of the phone wasn’t born when Guaranteed Annuity Rates were a thing and tells you the policy has none, despite you knowing it probably has.
  • The provider gives you information that just ‘smells wrong’ and after weeks of challenge, they finally give you the correct information (that you had to feed them).  
  • Even though the client has three policies with them and you’ve been waiting on hold for 45 minutes to get through, they can only give you information on two of the policies, and you must ring back for the other one, in the name of ‘service standards’. 
  • The person on the end of the phone has had two days of training on pensions, and you had to talk them through their own system and show them where the information is.   
  • The provider proudly informs you, without any sense of embarrassment, that they only accept LOA’s by fax.  

Did anybody get 10?  

Oh, all of you!  

And how much do we charge our clients for this service?  

Nothing. Nada. Zip.  

Yup, we are the only profession that doesn’t charge for the preliminary work that is required to establish the baseline upon which our professional service can be delivered.  

How about we ask the architect to design a building without a land survey?  

They’d laugh at you because they, like us, need that baseline to have something to build on.  

So maybe we should suggest they do it for free?  

They’re laughing even more now. It requires a lot of work and experience to do the survey or discovery, so why on earth would they cover the costs for you?  

And this is part of our problem.   

We are so conditioned to the ineptitude and indifference so often displayed by providers, that we don’t understand the value of the work that we do during the discovery process.  

And so, not only do we not charge for it explicitly, but we also don’t even explain the process and value of it to the client.  

And as for the providers, I get it.    

There is no benefit to them in giving you the existing policy information in a slick and efficient manner.  

Let’s face it, once an adviser is poking around in a clients existing policy, there’s a better than even chance that the provider is going to be losing business.

Hence, the providers are never going to improve their service; it’s like asking the turkey to put the oven on and rub some butter on its tummy.  

So, I appreciate that you maybe don’t feel you can charge for this separately because it’s really hard to articulate the benefits to the client.  

In fact, there’s an irony that the value in it only really shows itself when it’s done wrong.  

At the very least though, let’s be loud and proud about what is involved. It might only take a month to get the information, but it takes a career to know whether it’s right or not. – Software, Training & Business Services for Financial Planners


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