A 4 Point Plan

I have been looking for the appropriate way to describe the experience of getting locked into a long Financial Stewardship exercise. There are the obvious weight related options, perhaps either millstone or ball and chain, alternatively, plenty of animal related options, limpets, leeches and the good old albatross.

Historically you could paint it as being under medieval siege, biblically as the 7 plagues of Egypt, classically – well I will leave that one to you. Cinematically it is most resembles “Groundhog Day”.

Currently we are juggling at least half a dozen of these, all at different stages and with clients at various levels of infuriation. They are, one and all, confusing, overlapping and seemingly randomly retrospective. What is most frustrating is that claims periods you thought were finally “signed off” suddenly become “live” again, with the (deliberately) contradictory application of guidance to long made claims. Sometimes on a previously assessed file. The debilitating impact of this cannot be underestimated.

All of this was, of course, entirely preventable, and I say this without the use of 20:20 hindsight. In any event the LAA can have this 4 Point plan, for free, in advance of future changes to fees schemes.

Firstly – write clear comprehensive guidance, well in advance of implementation date. Compare the now woefully out-of-date Cost Assessment Guidance with the current mess. The former has, for instance, 5 reasonably clear paragraphs explaining when a single, yes a single, £3.90 phone call can be claimed. By comparison the latter contains an entirely unclear, and contentious, set of bullet points “defining” when a £200+ Level 2 fee is payable. This is THE most important element of the Family schedule. If you provide good clear guidance firms will follow it or be unable to complain much when they don’t.

Secondly – share this with the profession, call it training if you like. DO NOT however, dump badly prepared course materials on unwilling tutors the night before an event. And always have someone there who can answer questions rather than offering to “get back to you on that”.

Thirdly – do NOT resist the legitimate establishment of defining Points of Principle – this is to all parties benefit.

Finally – when you come round to audit have a clear, linear plan which you implement fairly and consistently, and which you do not subsequently go back on.

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