CA Summit 2008: Independence remains core to intermediary values

The market should not be concerned about life companies buying up advisory firms or other parts of the advice chain because providers recognise that independence lies at the heart of an intermediary business’s value, according to John Lawson.

“The providers that have bought advisory firms have done so because they believe that there is value in the distribution chain and not because they wanted to control the advisers,” Lawson said. “There is always a danger when you try to impose a view on advisers you risk losing them. they don’t want to be fettered by the views of the adviser.”

The firm’s head of pensions policy said IFA investments were treated as an arms-length investment rather than a new distribution channels.

“We have not seen any effects on the firms that we have bought stakes in, both in terms of the advice given or our business volumes from them increasing,” said Lawson.

He said any life company that acquires an intermediary and does try to impose its views on it risks sparking a mass exodus of its top advisers.

Nick Burns, a director at PIFC which was bought by Axa last year, agrees. He said: “We are currently going through a rebrand and one of the core brand values for us is the term ‘independent’. So independence it is – for now.”