Monday, February 22, 2010

1% Levy on Unit-Linked Savings and Investments

I'm a bit piqued by the 'not for turning' attitude on the Government on this Levy; as introduced in the Finance Bill.

Let's call a spade a spade; this Levy will have a negative affect my business but it also affects me as a consumer as I have a preference for saving/investing through these products. I don't fancy handing over 1% of every payment I make, to save for my family's future, to subsidise a Government that can't think beyond tomorrow.

In 1985 the Government introduced a 'temporary' insurance levy of 2% on General Insurance (house, motor etc.) premiums to assist with the bailing out of the Insurance Corporation of Ireland. 25 years later, it's still there and it was increased by 50% in 2009.

Now, the Governments attention is focused on Life Insurance Protection type policies (mortgage protection, term insurance etc.) as well as Unit-Linked Savings and Investments. They had initially planned to apply the 1% Levy to private Pension policies but did a u-turn on the wisdom of that between the publication of the Budget and Finance Bill. The 'great minds' that had the temerity to even think about slapping a levy on these pension policies should be the ones that are emigrating.

Anyway, back to the title of this post. I understand that Government need to raise revenue to bail out the reckless spending and lending that has landed us in the mess we are in, but I don't understand the train of thought that goes along with some of the areas they are hitting.

Here is a summary of why I think that the 1% Levy on Unit-Linked Savings and Investments is a bad fecking idea :

# It's Anti-Competitive - It does not apply to all similar type products in this sector.
# It's a deterrent to save/invest - Folk should be encouraged to save so that they have something to fall back on when their Country goes bust, just to keep the show on the road.
# I would have serious doubts about the anticipated revenue it will raise - Do they (DoF) even know?
# The Government take tax at 41% of the growth on these funds already.
# Consumer groups have been campaigning for a long time to reduce the costs of these products - not increase them.
# There seems to have been no thought given to the costs of administering the collection of the levy.
# It punishes those that are being prudent with their money by saving for the long-term - Unlike you-know-who.
# It will drive savers/investors to the doors of the Banks and Post Office - Think about that one!
# There is no 'plan' as to how long this levy will apply - "Shur they'll get used to it like the Insurance Levy".
# It comes at a time when the Government are introducing their own medium to long-term savings scheme via the National Solidarity Bond - No levy on that then. Ahem!!!

Folks, would there be any appetite out there to get the Government to reverse this levy on Unit-Linked Savings and Investments? They haven't listened to the Industry heads. Do you think that they might listen to the consumers?

UPDATED 30/12/2011

The 1% Levy on the Savings & Investment product available at will not apply for the term of the contract.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The F.U. File

I keep a file in my office, simply titled F.U. It's littered with F**k Ups by Life and Pension Companies over the past 3 years. F.U's that cost my business money. There are also letters from these companies offering 'sincere' apologies for their incompetence and assuring me that the 'problems' have been rectified. To be honest; these letters are as empty as the heads that wrote them.

It was my hope that 2010 would bring some change to the way Life & Pension companies do business. Alas, it has begun the way that 2009 ended; same story, different year. I don't think that I would have higher expectations of customer service than other Financial Advisors. From talking with a few others before Christmas, it would appear that they are also experiencing servicing difficulties with some of the players in the market.

It really is baffling that the very companies that are losing business and market share cannot up their game to win new business by providing a superior service to customers. It seems that 'buying' business is where it's at in management circles but this method of business growth is not good news for the end consumer.

What I would like to ask the readers of this Blog is this : 'Do you think that I should post i) details of servicing issues that I am having with companies here ii) the names of the companies involved and iii) the name/s of the individual/s responsible for the F**k Ups?'

In your opinion would it hinder or help with customer service?