It’s easy to be cynical
The following thoughts went through my mind when I realised that today is Wednesday 9th January, the day when the ban pension cold calling comes into place.
“Why has it taken three years four months since Darren Cooke’s petition to get something in place?”
“Why aren’t we taking overseas originated pension scamming more seriously?”
“Why have I got an embargoed press release from RSM in my inbox telling me they support the ban?”
Paul Lewis has looked into this and he is more forthright
The pension cold call ban will not apply to texts, emails, or social media, just phone calls. It will not apply to calls from abroad. It will not apply to calls from firms you have dealt with. It will not apply to calls about other investments. It will not work.
— Paul Lewis (@paullewismoney) January 8, 2019
Just because you and I aren’t vulnerable…..
I could add that the ban is diverting attention from the main event.
Right now, the cold-calling ban will only hit the amateur prospector and the lead generators. The real damage to retirement wealth is being done by what I call “incremental scamming”, the layering of fees by unscrupulous UK wealth managers and by the outright thieves, who pedal their wares from abroad.
I could argue that we now have tools to block cold-callers.
The telephone is increasingly something we will not answer, unless we can see the person’s name on our screen. We are getting better at avoiding cold-calls. We just let the call run and see if a voicemail or message arrives after, we look and listen and decide if we want to follow up.
If we get anything we don’t like we block callers as we junk email and mute those who tweet against us. We build up our own private systems for the protection of our time and wallets.
For most of us – a ban is unnecessary, you might argue that Government policy on scamming is too reactive and too feeble.
But for those who have no processes of protection – particularly the old – the ban is still necessary.
Our feeling savvy doesn’t mean that others aren’t….
That you are reading this online tells me the ban will not make any difference to you.
But it may stop many elderly people being pestered, and those who are young and trying too hard. Some of the people I have met who have been scammed were scammed because they partially got it. They got freedom and choice and the need for high returns – and yes the need for a good financial adviser. Whether in Port Talbot or in southern Spain, the scammer can see that the responsible and diligent are potential prey.
The saddest part of dealing with the consequences of scamming is that most of the people scammed were not being greedy, they simply thought they were doing the right thing for themselves and their family. These people are vulnerable not foolish, they get let down by their own moral code, that doesn’t countenance fraud. I do not count naivety as folly (though most do).
We should say thanks to Darren Cooke today.
We should say thanks to Darren for looking beyond his nose and thinking of a wider public than the good people who are his clients (Darren is a great IFA).
In September 2016, Darren launched a petition to stop cold calling. It caught the interest of other IFAs and went viral. It caught the attention of Government – legislation followed but it took 3 years for that legislation to come into force.
Today’s Darren’s day. Here is the argument he used for going public about this – for making noise.
“A ban won’t stop cold calling but it will allow a strong message to be sent that it’s illegal; that these people are breaking UK law and if they’re prepared to do that, what else are they prepared to do? It works as much as an awareness campaign than about anything else.
“That’s why I’ve done the press work: not to raise my profile but to get the message out there. If I go on TV with two, three or four million people watching, hopefully they’ll get the message that if they get a cold call about their pension they should just hang up.”
That remains as true today as it was 3 years ago. It has taken three years too long to get the message out – some would say many more than that. But today, the message gets out and I hope that some of the people who do pick up the phone are made aware that the phone can be a pernicious device.
The ban on cold-calling is a good thing
I’ve heard it argued that promoting awareness of bad practice runs the risk of defaming good practice – that pensions are dragged through the mud when we talk of pension scamming.
That’s to ignore the good that lies behind this ban. The campaigners to stop scamming, the Angie Brooks’ , the Christopher Lean’s, the Al Rush’s , the Andy Agethangelou’s, the Sue Flood’s and the Darren Cooke’s, collectively represent a zeitgeist for good that is best summed up by Andy’s word “Transparency”.
We cannot spin our way out of scamming, we need to accept that it will always happen. But we can do our job to make the scammers job harder – which is what the cold-calling ban does.
We can show people that there are people on the other side who care – I’ve listed them. We should support them and those many others who signed the original petition. It made a difference