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Never Trust Your Employer When They Become Your Ex-Employer...

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Here is a woeful tale entitled – Never Trust Your Employer When They Become Your Ex-Employer

So, here is the background, I worked for a firm for 10 years or more, with only ever one complaint falling against me and that was with great thanks to my previous employer stitching me up in any case. Otherwise a completely blemish free career, in most cases ahead of my target and therefore not costing them a penny in salary which fell short of the required levels of production.

When I joined, I was granted permission by the then MD, latterly the CEO and even more latterly, the CEO who was dismissed via gross misconduct, in the event of me leaving the company, to approach the clients I brought to the firm without my restrictive covenant applying. Pretty typical in the industry I am in. This was agreed as far as I was concerned on a handshake.

Roll forward 9 years, the CEO is dismissed and the company starts to augment into a different beast, away from what my principles are and more towards that of a sales machine. I negotiated last year very hard and got an unbelievable deal in terms of target and bonus structure. I suspect they were smarting from losing another key individual and wanted to retain my services.

A few months ago, the company appointed a new Sales Director whose undeniable role was to shape up the business for sale in the next 5-7 years, this coupled with a dislike for the direction the company was moving in and a chance Linked In message from an acquaintance, led me to meet for coffee, have a chat and secure a job offer from a smaller, more niche organisation that follows my values and is more advice focussed rather than sales.

I mulled over the offer against the new ‘instant’ bonus offering from the existing firm, during this time I had a 121 with the new Sales Director who stated ‘he didn’t know where I fit within the organisation’ That was of no consequence as I had decided the new company offered me a better long term future, so I tendered my resignation on 28th March 2014, which was by coincidence the very same day I received my bonus for the 2013/14 business year, who’d have thunk that!

A letter was dispatched from HR confirming receipt of my resignation, confirming my exit date, 6th June 2014, reminding me of my Restrictive Covenant and informing me that they were reviewing the list of clients I had requested to retain (in accordance with my original agreement in 2003) together with my remaining salary calculations.

A week later, another letter arrives informing me that I could retain some of the clients, all of the low value ones and only 2 or 3 of the higher value clients under the original handshake agreement, in addition to this there was a paragraph that literally boiled my piss, a deduction of an unspecified amount based on their calculation of a liability to £10,000. This was the first I had ever heard of such a deduction.

I spoke to a number of former colleagues, including the former CEO, one of which confirmed he’d been subjected to the deduction, others denying all existence of such a clause. A quick phone and email around with a corporate lawyer and two employment lawyers, confirmed that this was an ‘unfair and unreasonable’ contract clause and any deduction would be regarded as an ‘unlawful deduction’, would breach my contract and render it null and void, granting me licence to recover losses through an Employment Tribunal which I wouldn’t lose.

Quoting the above to my current employer made them back track and withdraw the threat of the deduction. I have since informed the former colleague who suffered this deduction of my key phrases and he is looking forward to a full refund and interest on the payment taken.

I have since spent the last two weeks fighting to secure my clients, everyone in my office can pretty much identify on sight who they are, where they came from and the fact that the only adviser they have dealt with within the current firm has been me, but the company is smarting from the fact they lost one battle and relying on the lack of a written and agreed list of clients.

This infuriates me, not only because they are effectively calling me a liar, but they had in fact provided me with a written agreement confirming I could approach those clients, the only part missing is a schedule of agreed clients.

I have reviewed the missing names and there is one family group that I am rather upset to have ‘lost’ as I spent a lot of time, probably more than I should have, making sure that not only the client was very well looked after during his lifetime but also that his son and daughter benefited from my utmost care and attention whilst dealing with his estate.

So, I have learned a number of things, never shake on a deal, always get it in writing, sadly my new employer will feel the wrath of this as I won’t transfer any clients without absolute clarity on every single point (thankfully they are fully aware of what has been happening), employers have absolute distrust in their employees in spite of any length of service, there is no such thing as an amicable termination of employment and you really learn who your true friends are...

The final closing views are that I know the company now lacks anyone with any true commitment to providing an advice led service, their business model is clearly contrary to what the regulator is looking for and most importantly, they are missing their greatest asset, me!

The last comment is rather tongue in cheek, but as the only pension transfer specialist in the organisation, the only person with practical and theoretical knowledge of automatic enrolment and probably the only person capable of layering advice in a fully holistic manner in all areas of tax planning, they are somewhat fucked!

As a footnote to the above, I attended the office today to sign the new agreement and ended up spending an hour helping out the admin staff in dealing with client matters, some of mine, some technical issues and just a little bit of bitching

Tomorrow will be fun, there is a leaving do for another colleague and the former CEO will be in attendance, I owe that man a beer and we need to have a damned good catch up!

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Comments

  1. Hudson's Avatar
    I worked in Commercial Banking for 21 years and the comment you made......''there is no such thing as an amicable termination of employment and you really learn who your true friends are...'' says it all.... i never (ever) thought that any of my peers at the banks were friends, its a job, and only a job, nothing more and nothing less. I was paid a salary to do what it said in my contract and i did, i was owed nothing else. I left with a large amount of cash when i opted for the voluntary redundancy package and never looked back. I am glad your settled now, just forget it all and move on, life is so short.
  2. Reburner's Avatar
    I would have thought, working with legally binding complex documents , as you do, that you would have learned the 'never trust a handshake agreement' bit a long time ago. Management come and go and no one is going to honour previous agreements that a) are not legally binding and b) there is no evidence of.

    As for them being 'somewhat fucked' it never surprises me how you see new management appointed who do not have the skills to do the job and then immediately alienate the people who they need to rely on.

    Best of luck.
  3. Bigyin's Avatar
    I assume what we spoke of tonight and what i sent you will add a new chapter to this ......... will wait and see how it develops but you'll do fine

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