Category Archives: RMT Group

Interview with Martin Potts, RMT Group Training Manager

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Martin Potts, RMT Group Training Manager talks about his role at RMT and the role of the call centre operators, who he both trains and provides ongoing support to.


RMT offers complimentary appointments with Independent Financial Advisors across the UK. The aim of the appointments is to give members of the public the opportunity to have their pension reviewed by an FCA-regulated Independent Financial Advisor, who can assess whether their pension is performing for them and advise them of any course of action that will make them financially better off.

The first stage in this process starts will a call from an RMT phone operative who will provide awareness of the changes in pension legislation and explain exactly what takes place at an appointment and how it can be of benefit.

The majority of call centres operatives at RMT are home-based, giving them the flexibility to fit their work around other commitments. Their career at RMT starts off as office-based, where they receive training and support until they are ready to work from home.

“The training really centres around instilling the foundations and the knowledge in our new employees,” Martin Potts explains. “ It comprises of three, what we call, classroom days, where they are taken through the UK pensions market, the news laws that are in place and the changes to pension legislation.

“It’s important to remember that we are not training IFAs but our call centre operators do need to have a foundation knowledge of both the service we offer and the pensions market so that they can communicate this effectively to people.

“Following the training, employees spend around one month working in our incubation centre, working with myself and one other experienced office-based operator until they are confident in what they are doing and are able to work from home.

“And even when they become home-based we are still there at the end of the phone if they need our help or support. In addition, we continually monitor performance and listen to recordings of calls to ensure the quality of their work is always at the highest level and provide feedback as and when necessary.

“Our call centre operation is based in Spain and so when we look to recruit new employees we look for someone who is already settled and established in Spain. We look for someone who is experienced in working in call centres, someone who ideally has a background in finance and, most importantly, is confident in communicating on the phone.

“We can teach people all about the service we offer and the pensions market but the one thing we cannot teach them is how to be confident on the phone.

“Anyone receiving a call from one of our operatives can expect to speak to a professional individual. It’s important to remember that we are not trying to sell anything, so it’s not a case that they are going to be receiving a call from a sales person.

“Our role is to help people to understand that it is something that could be of benefit to them. We raise awareness of the new pension legislation, explain how this could affect them and give them the opportunity to speak with an Independent Financial Advisor.

“It is a complimentary review with someone who is professional, it is something that the UK Government recommends everyone should do to ensure their pension is in order.

“An Independent Financial Advisor will give you an hour of their time, review your financial situation and, in most cases, will be able to come back with a solution to your problem.

“On the flipside, if they review your situation and everything is fine, then they will recommend you leave things as they are, which gives you peace of mind that your pension is performing well. And who wouldn’t want to receive peace of mind about something that is so crucial to you in later life.

“Sometimes people expect that it will be a sales man turning up to their home for the consultation and they are pleasantly surprised to discover they are not. Instead, it’s a qualified and regulated advisor who provides honest and professional advice and anyone who has a meeting with an Independent Financial Advisor is under no obligation to take things further.

“They are simply presented with the options available to them and clear information on how this could benefit them. Any costs associated with any recommendations are clearly and transparently explained, leaving them with the information they need to make an informed choice about what to do with their pension.

“I actually really enjoy my role at RMT. It’s not a pressurised sales environment, it’s a professional office, with a nice small team and it’s great to work for an established, professional company with a bright future ahead.”

Ryan Mellor is Co-founder of RMT Group, RMT Direct Leads, IFA Direct Home, RegulatedAdvice.co.uk and Local Professional Direct.

Interview with Charlotte Till, Operations Director of RMT Group

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Charlotte Till is Operations Director at RMT, she has been with the company since its start and is infact one of the co-founders, along with Ryan Mellor.

The business originally began with booked appointments for Independent Financial Advisors, but in more recent years the company has also introduced online Financial Advisor leads as an option for its financial advisors and it now has a large number of financial advisors on board who have worked with RMT for many years and generated many new clients from the appointments and leads supplied by RMT.

As Operations Director, Charlotte’s role at RMT is two-fold: she looks after the financial advisors and she also looks after her team of employees who book the appointments and generate the online leads.

“Working with the IFAs I make sure it runs correctly and deal with any queries and questions relating to the appointments,” she said.

 “With the staff I am very hands-on, I regularly listen to the calls to make sure they are conducting them correctly. In reality, I am the person in the middle and I want to make sure that it all runs smoothly, on both sides.”

The process at RMT begins in the call centre, where Charlotte’s team make initial contact with potential clients.

“The role of the call centre is to contact the general public and inform them of what’s happening with pensions and what is changing, what new legislation has come into play and what may be about to change and to let them know what they can do about it.”

Once an appointment is booked for a client an independent financial advisor will travel to meet with them face-to-face and provide an initial one-hour free consultation, where they will review their pension, and often their financial position in general, and make recommendations on next steps.

“When an advisor visits a client I advise them to go into as much detail as possible with the client. They are not selling their services as such but it’s important they get across exactly what they can do for the client and how it works. There’s only a certain level to which we can discuss things with the clients prior to the appointment as we are not financial advisors, so it’s vital the financial advisors go through this information with the client.”

To date Charlotte’s team at RMT have connected thousands of people with financial advisors across the UK to get the advice and help they need to ensure their pension funds are performing for them. 

“For the clients the main point is that it doesn’t cost anything to have the appointment with the financial advisor, it’s free to meet with them and they could discover that they are actually currently losing money on their pension. Your pension is really important, it may not seem it now, but when it comes to retirement it’s what you have to live on so sorting your pension and ensuring it’s performing the best it can is something that everyone needs to do.”

Before founding RMT, Charlotte managed a qualifying room for leads and this is where she first got to know and work with financial advisors and the business grew from there.

“I really enjoy my job and what I think makes it really enjoyable is that it’s never the same, it’s constantly changing, there’s always something new to learn and new queries to deal with. No day is ever the same and I am always constantly doing something different.

“The biggest challenge for me is trying to keep everyone happy, making sure everything is running smoothly as it should and making sure it stays that way.”

And, speaking about the culture at RMT, Charlotte added: “I always describe RMT as a little family rather than an office, we all get on very well and that’s how I like it to be. Every year we have a Christmas and a summer party and we spend time together outside of the office so we really are more like a family than work colleagues.”

Outside of her role as Operations Director, Charlotte is a keen sports enthusiast and loves to spend time with her family.

“We have started to go for country walks as a family which we enjoy as there is so much nice scenery near to where we live. I also am very keen on sports, I take tennis lessons and I like football, I have been part of a football team in the past and I am currently looking to join in a new one near to where I live.”

Ryan Mellor is Co-founder of RMT Group, RMT Direct Leads, IFA Direct Home, RegulatedAdvice.co.uk and Local Professional Direct.

Pensions scams: consultation

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https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/pension-scams/pensions-scams-consultation

Below are RMT Group’s answers to the UK’s government open consultation on the proposal by the UK government to reduce pensions scams by banning pension cold calling.

Question 2.1
Does the definition in 2.1 above capture the key areas of consumer detriment caused by pension scam activity?

Yes it does.

Question 2.2
Are there any other factors that should be considered as signs of a scam?

Yes when ‘introducers’ are involved and multiple financial advisors are involved.  Typically the introducer will work with a ‘panel of financial advisors’ where one financial advisor would be used to open a SIPP on an execution only basis. A second financial advisor will then advise on the suitability of investments based on the clients circumstances and attitude to risk. Typically 75% of these funds will go into a ‘vanilla’ type investment but 25% will go into something very risky such as a small cap stock or alternative investment fund that has huge spreads or a very high commission. A 50% spread or commission on this part of the investment could give rise to an overall 12.5% commission being 4 times greater than a financial advisor would normally charge. That’s nearly £6,000 earned on a average pension pot of £46,000.

When the caller appears to be directly or indirectly representing the FCA or a government or legislative body.

Question 3.1
In your experience, how are consumers affected by cold calling about pensions? Do any consumers benefit from cold calling about pensions?

We run a call centre booking pension appointments for around 25 different financial advice firms. This involves making thousands of calls per week. Most calls are ended within 10-15 seconds, but a significant number of our cold calls are above 2 minutes (8.61%), some co-ordinators have up to 20%. Once the prospect starts talking and they have a pension that qualifies it is an extremely positive experience as the vast majority of people are confused and do not understand their pensions want to know more.

At this level we find that the vast majority of people that we speak to are confused about their pension situation. If it is established that the prospect has a qualifying pension, their experience with us becomes extremely positive and generally there is a need to understand their options both now and in the future. This is particularly relevant when the possibility of over-charging on annual management fees may have taken place and the new flexible options and taxation issues, which were introduced in April 2015. Our call highlights these important issues but the final decision to act, remains with the prospect.

Since 2013 we have arranged  nearly 3,000 appointments for people who were mainly unaware of how these important issues may impact on their pension in retirement. Our conversion rates are very high at 70% and we encourage people to leave reviews on eKomi. This provides a measure by which we can check that no high pressure or mis-selling occurs. Here are some of our reviews relating to the quality of service provided by ourselves and our financial advisors.

https://www.ekomi.co.uk/review-ifa-directcom.html

“The initial contact call was very gentle and not pushy whatsoever. *** was very courteous and professional.”

“Although this was a ‘cold call’ I found the consultant very helpful and I did not feel under any pressure to accept the
invite.”

“The initial introduction and communications up to the meeting were first class. Appointment went very smoothly and now await the findings with baited breath!!”

“Don’t usually respond to telephone canvassers. But all very professional . The Ida who turned up very genuine & straight forward . I would defiantly recommend”

Question 3.1
Do you agree that the scope of the ban should include the actions set out in paragraph 3.5 above? Are there any other activities that should fall within the scope of the proposed ban on pensions cold calling?

As copied from paragraph 3.5:

offers of a ‘free pension review’, or other free financial advice or guidance – Yes

assessments of the performance of the individual’s current pension funds – Yes

inducements to hold certain investments within a pensions tax wrapper including overseas investments – No, as this is advice

promotions of retirement income products such as drawdown and annuity products – No, as this is advice

inducements to release pension funds early – No

inducements to release funds from a pension and transfer them into a bank account – No

inducement to transfer a pension fund – No

introductions to a firm dealing in pensions investments – No

offers to assess charges on the pension – Yes

If you are to ban pension cold calling the ban should only affect cold callers not representing fully regulated advisor firms.

Question 3.3
Do you agree that existing client relationships and express requests should be excluded from the proposed ban?

Yes, otherwise how will they communicate?

Question 3.4
What would the costs and benefits be of extending the proposed ban to include all electronic communications?

We do not text or email prospects so I cannot comment.

Question 3.5
How can the government best maintain the clarity of existing PECR concepts in light of the proposed ban on pensions cold calling?

No comment.

Question 3.6
How else can the government best ensure consumers are aware of the ban?

We do not think that cold calling should be banned. However, if you did ban it you would need constant advertising to warn the general public as the general public have a very short memory and so with no constant advertising it would ironically be easier for the scam companies as they would now be operating in a vacuum and they are certainly not concerned about the £500,000 fine as they are breaking the law anyway. Money would be better spent on educating the general public of the benefits of seeing a financial advisor post RDR and educating persons to make sure that person is on the financial services register. Lots of legitimate companies use cold calling and by peddling the current view as published in the Daily Mail or the Express that “if someone contacts you out of the blue about your pension they are criminals and are breaking the law”  means that legitimate companies have to make more calls.

Question 3.7
Do you have any views on enforcement mechanism set out in paragraphs 3.10 above?

£500,000 fine is more than enough for our firm to quit this market. But a scam company will not be deterred as its already committing fraud or partaking in it so what will the fine do when they already run the risk of going to prison? It certainly won’t stop them. But it will cripple companies like our own and create a larger space for the scam companies to operate in.

Question 3.8
Is there any reason why legitimate firms’ business models should be affected as a result of the ban?

Yes, a ban on cold calling would mean a greater reliance on online lead generation. Online lead generation has a ceiling on the number of leads generated determined by the number of searches made for financial advice. This would not be able to satisfy the demand of 20,000 financial advisors and their requirements for new prospects.

This would further reduce the number of financial advisors operating  in the UK as they would struggle to generate new prospects.

We supply appointments to around 25 regulated financial advice firms who rely on appointment setting to bring in new business.

Over the past 4 years it has been more and more difficult to generate appointments due to the negative image portrayed by the media that cold calling is a scam. The price of our appointments has steadily increased from £225 to £390 due to the increased degree of difficulty. We could generate 10 times the volume and still have no problem placing or selling the appointments.

Question 3.9
Do you have any other views or information the government should consider in relation to the proposed ban on cold calling in relation to pensions?

97% of pension scams started as a cold call. But what is the percentage of scam pension calls v legitimate pension calls. I think this has declined already over the past 18 months due to tightening of the SIPP companies on what they accept as an investment. This could be completely irradiated if the regulators simply made it impossible to transfer a pension into an illegitimate investment. We used to get 3 or 4 a month and now it’s very rare. I think a lot of the scam companies have already stopped trading. The next step is to prevent transfers into rogue occupational schemes to finish it once and for all. The answer is not to stop cold calls.

Would it not be better to fine the pension companies £500,000 for allowing a transfer of a pension into a illegitimate scheme, after all they are the custodians of the persons pension.

Our firm is #1 on Google for the word pension lead and as a result we receive around 3-400 enquiries per year from financial advisors. Around 60% of the enquiries are for appointments and not online leads. This is because they are superior in quality and performance and this enables the financial advisor to focus on giving advice.

Question 4.1
Do you agree with the proposal to limit the statutory right to transfer in this way, or should this be further limited? If so, in what way and why?

No, everyone should have the right, after all it’s their money. What about placing the responsibility on the pension company to be liable for transferring into a rogue scheme.

Question 4.2
Would a requirement to evidence a regular earnings link act as a major deterrent to prevent fraud? How could the requirements be circumvented?

Yes almost certainly.

Question 4.3
How might an earnings and employment link be implemented? Should the onus be on the scheme member to provide proof of earnings?

Not sure of the Data Protection problems but a list of employees and contributions should be made available to the pension company transferring from. Yes.

Question 4.4
What would be the impact and cost to trustees / managers / firms?

Statutory obligation should be introduced that would be required by law, that the scheme trustees / managers / firms had a duty of care to ensure that the pension rights of the individual are protected from fraudulent activity.

Question 4.5
Under the proposals, how would the process for ‘non-statutory’ transfers change for trustees or managers? What would they need to do differently from the current situation?

No comment.

Question 4.6
What are the pros and cons of introducing a statutory discharge form for insistent clients? How effective would this be as a means of combating scams?

But if the liability is with the pension company to not transfer (as they would effectively be the custodian of the pension scheme) then it cannot be transferred however insistent.

Question 4.7
How could it be ensured that a statutory discharge of responsibility did not reduce the requirement on firms and trustees to undertake due diligence?

A £500,000 fine?

Question 4.8
What are your views on a ‘cooling-off period’ for pension transfers? Do you have any evidence of how this could help to combat pension scams?

Probably would not work as the scam company would return the funds within the cooling period to avoid be flagged as suspect scheme.

Question 4.9
What additional measures or safeguards could be put in place to ensure that trustees or managers appropriately handle transfers that do not meet the new proposed statutory requirements?

That the funds are protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme in the event of fraudulent transfers.

Question 4.10
Are there other potential risks that this proposal might present? Do you have any suggestions as to how these risks might be mitigated?

The responsibility of the transfer of pensions should be with the pension companies and scheme trustees.

Question 5.1
Do you agree that new pension scheme registrations should be required to be made through an active company? If no, what are the legitimate circumstances in which a dormant company might want to register a new pension scheme?

Yes and none.

Question 5.2
Are there any further actions that the government should consider to prevent SSASs being used as vehicles for pension scams?

A blanket ban on SSASs would result in no need to transfer into an OPS. The only monies that pass into a OPS should be monthly pension contributions.

Ryan Mellor is Co-founder of RMT Group, RMT Direct Leads, IFA Direct Home, RegulatedAdvice.co.uk and Local Professional Direct.

Interview with Ryan Mellor, Sales Director of RMT Group

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ryanmellorRyan, why do you think the UK market financial services lead generation is so interesting for RMT Group?

I think the UK market is interesting for two main reasons. The first reason is that our brand RMT Group and RMT Direct Leads is well recognized in the UK by Independent Financial Advisors and Restricted Advisors alike because of its great reputation for high quality appointments offered, which has helped us achieve steady growth over the past 4 years.

Large financial advice networks and its advisors rely on our customer acquisition solutions, such as True Potential, SJPP and Charles  Derby. We work in total with 35  financial advisor firms who have a constant demand of our appointments. We have now completed a large number of appointments and positive testimonials over the past 4 years that we now use to strengthen the positive image of our brand. We are also #1 on Google UK for many related financial services lead search terms.

The second reason is our role in the UK market. We have recently registered a Gibraltar that applies no VAT to the sale of services to the UK means we have a unique 20% advantage over our UK competition. Gibraltar itself is dominated by financial services and online gambling. It represents a big opportunity to take RMT Group to another level and expand volumes considerably.

How are financial services lead generation doing at the moment?

Since the introduction of the Retail Distribution Review in 2012 we have seen strong demand for financial services leads. To put it simply, it is now very feasible for a financial advisor to buy in leads and turn these into fees with relative ease as you now giving the consumer a service that should improve their financial situation. We have almost unlimited demand for our appointment service but the difficulty lies in generating the actual appointments which is becoming increasingly challenging. Through data profiling we have stemmed the natural decline in call rate conversions which has happened over the past 2 years due to PPI and Charity telephone campaigns which have impacted negatively in the consumers mind. Added to the recent clampdown by the Information Commissioners Office – the ICO on opted in data, resulting in Call Credit Group pulling out of the market for the supply of consumer data in February this year has made data acquisition very much more difficult.  We have discovered that a appointment setting is still our strongest sector. It represents 60% of everything we do. We moved into the online financial services lead generation earlier this year which is growing steadily.

What strategy have you put in place?

There are three clear strategy points that I’ve been focusing on. We’ve been focusing on upholding the great brand that RMT Group represents. We must always be aware of perception in the market, our customer service, so that our brand stays strong. Our second strategy is to do business with both clients and end-users in both the online financial services sector and financial advisor appointment setting, which is our strongest area. Thirdly, to be the number one choice for high quality financial advisor appointments covering the UK.

Are there any activities or current projects you could talk to us about?

This year we have rebranded IFA Direct to IFA Direct Home and launched a brand new website and brand Local Professional Direct. This will enable RMT Group to expand into other verticals such as Mortgages, Insurance, Accountants and even Architects leads.

Could you tell us a bit more about your call centre, its structure and the people

We have colleagues who have spent a long time at RMT Group, such as Ann Causer and Peter Buckley. They know the product and our people very well. We’ve been working together for a long time. It is important to have trustworthy and reliable RMT Group colleagues.

Three years ago, we had the possibility to move to larger premises, which we did and more recently we added a second office for the online activities. We like to have a good atmosphere between our colleagues. We always do a summer event, this year being in Malaga and we also get together every year for the Christmas party in our favourite restaurant Ponchos. There are 15 of us all together in the office. There are a Operations Manager, two administration assistants ten co-ordinators,  Charlotte Till who is the Operations Director and myself.

Could you tell us about your background?

After my university degree, I began my career as a trainee architect for the architectural firm Lawrence Tring Architect’s. I then had the opportunity to work as a technical coordinator for a social housing developer company in London, Lovell’s before moving on to Taylor Woodrow. After relocating to Spain 11 years ago, I started a new career in marketing overseas property and investments before setting up my own company. In 2012, I set up, with Charlotte Till, RMT Group (UK) Ltd a company providing financial services leads to the new restructured financial services sector before setting up RMT Group Limited in Gibraltar in 2015. We own the brands IFA Direct Home and Local Professional Direct. I live in Spain with my partner Charlotte Till and we have one son.

Ryan Mellor is Co-founder of RMT Group, RMT Direct Leads, IFA Direct Home, RegulatedAdvice.co.uk and Local Professional Direct.

TalkTalk data hack reduces the number of pension appointments made by 20%

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Pension Appointment
IFA Direct Appointment

The recent TalkTalk data hack and the very negative publicity that has lingered on during the month of October and November has reduced the number of booked pension appointments made during this period  by 20%.

The last month has seen an increase in the ratio of calls to appointments made up from the past years average of 1 in 64  to 1 in 81 (appointment made that meets criteria versus calls made that are not interested).

The same period last year saw a ratio is 1 in 67, making it 20% more difficult.  However, it has been higher than 1 in 81 in the past year. March broke the record at 1 in 95!

Strangely in March it was a record month for IFA Direct where it booked in excess of 200 appointments –  perhaps a strange mixture of the anticipated pension reforms that were due to take place in April and the news that the ICO were to impose huge fines on  firms who flout rules on direct marketing,

The reason it went to 1 in 95 was the action by the UK government to fine cold callers. This news was announced on the 25 February 2015. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-31616523

You can search on Google for trending words such as nuisance calls or cold call to gauge consumer sentiment . You can see in March and October  that the number of searches for nuisance calls or cold calls spiked in response to the news.

In October the TalkTalk data hack news led to a spike on the 25-31 October 2015  at 100 (100 is the max during that period) for the term nuisance calls. However, a week later 1-7 November 2015 it was down to 55 a huge drop of 45%, looking like the news was already fading and past its peak.

google trend

Ryan Mellor is Co-founder of RMT Group, RMT Direct Leads, IFA Direct Home, RegulatedAdvice.co.uk and Local Professional Direct.