Money (10)

In his regular column, Malcolm Durham from Flexible Directors looks at business solutions to see if they do what they say on the tin.

I was delighted when a marketing expert said that although lots of companies call themselves “” without living up to the title, FD Solutions were entitled to do so because we are FDs who solve the cash flow issues of businesses and charities.

Over the years I’ve kept a lookout for other business solutions to see if they do what they say on the tin. There’s FD Solutions Ltd. It provides print and laminating solutions and I’ve never known why it’s called FD Solutions. I used to know Integrated Printing Solutions which sold printers. But to me an integrated printing solution would allow me to turn on my laptop, introduce it to a printer and ask the laptop to send information to the printer which would then print it out. But, as you may have noticed, the process is not as straightforward as it could be. In my experience it involves searching for printers, which are rarely found, and downloading drivers that are even more elusive.

Nor, it seems, is the process of sending funds from A to B as straightforward as I assumed. I thought that we finance people were a bit more together than those IT bods with their protocols and drivers, and transferring unit trusts in specie (which means in kind, not as cash) from listed institution A to worldwide institution B would be as easy as writing out a cheque, since this is essentially what it is. Those of you who have studied finance law may recall the adage that a cheque can be written on the side of a cow, since it’s not the form of the message that matters just its clarity. My means of communication was rather more prosaic, a letter which I sent and emailed on January 19th.

In the first four weeks leading up to the first deadline, precisely nothing happened. Maybe they were looking for the cow. On enquiry (from me, no-one else thought to check progress), I was told that it had got lost. That was because I had used the wrong address apparently (although I checked it and even I can copy and paste). Miraculously, when a senior executive got involved, this epistle, which had gone to the wrong address remember, was discovered.

Problem over? Well no because the transferor needed the transferee to agree to accept “U2 super clean funds”. This is not Bono’s latest anti-corruption initiative but it foxed even the CEO of an investment manager. I wonder if that was its aim?

There followed assurances that my people are talking to their people and, (would you believe it?), awaiting a response from their people?

Finally, someone, I don’t know who, made a decision to implement my instructions and hopefully, one day, I will get my wishes fulfilled. Processes may have been followed, and differences between A’s processes and B’s processes have finally been bridged. But the financial services industry looks no more slick and smooth than my printing environment, and not only because its software is as unfit for purpose as Windows. It’s fooling itself if it thinks it’s a lean world class one that deserves special treatment when negotiating Brexit. It’s becoming bloated charging fees irrespective of performance and failing to invest so as to provide an acceptable level of service which is lacking for the worst reason of all – most of the competitors are just as bad.

Maybe only good FDs can actually provide solutions to the problem of unwieldy financial processes? We’ve got a few of them here but please note that even though our FD Solutions are not Ltd., we don’t do printers.