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Ex-Aegon Direct chief sets up new mass-market advice firm

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Former Aegon Direct chief executive James Dean is developing an online and phone-based mass-market advice service.

This week’s Money Marketing reveals the plans for Decide2, which will target clients that IFA firms decide are no longer profitable after the RDR. Advisers will be paid a percentage of any resulting revenue to introduce clients. Dean says the firm is yet to decide how long the payments will continue for.

If Decide2 thinks a client needs full advice, it will refer them back to their original adviser. Dean says Decide2 will take full liability for any advice it gives.

Clients will be charged a percentage of their investment and will have access to a client manager who will direct them to the appropriate level of service, such as execution-only or advice.

Decide2, which will also be available direct to consumers, will initially focus on the at-retirement market when it launches at the end of this year, before widening out to cover products such as basic investments and protection.

Dean led the development of the Aegon Direct service, which launched in October 2009 to provide annuity advice to members of affinity group partners.

Aegon UK announced the closure of Aegon Direct this month, saying its resources could be better spent elsewhere. The venture will close by the end of the year.
Dean also built up Skipton Financial Services’ phone and online advice teams.

Dean says: “Rather than just orphan clients, Decide2 is a way of servicing clients while still gaining value from them.”

Plan Money director Peter Chadborn says: “Firms are going to have to decide what they do with so-called lower-value clients. The short-sighted firms will let those clients go while others will look for somewhere else to service them. This looks like a viable option.”

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Readers' comments (6)

  • A really interesting at retirement proposition from Decide2 and the timing couldn't be any better. As an affinity brand owner I do feel there will be a wide gap in the market after RDR and we need innovative company's like Decide2 to have a long term strategy to serve this mass yet lucrative market.

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  • And a quality guy at the healm. james has a track record of success in this type of business. I am sure it will bring a quality offering for both advisers and clients.

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  • What really gets me mad is that the RDR is creating a multi tiered advice sector which was not really needed, the "mass" market was already well served by existing IFAs and the commission remuneration options available to them.

    As for letting my clients go to another firm, that would not be acceptable as this is a recipe for "churning" the likes of which we have yet to experience, but experience it we surely will.

    The so called "mass" market will just get more and more confused and will be ripped off left, right and centre by inferior services and inferior advice that they will surely desert the financial markets for their savings if they decide to continue saving.

    I would much rather spend an hour with any of my clients free of charge if necessary, regardless of status than hand them over to the pirates whose sole motivation is to see how much they make out them from the clients limited resources.

    For the "mass" market and I abhore the term, the RDR will be an umitigated disaster, as they will not know which way to turn, simplified, restricted, full advice, money advice (not advice) service etc etc.

    The "old" days when advice and products were offered under two very simple and distinct criteria, Tied or Independent was and still is the only sensible way to offer financial services. That of course will no longer happen.

    Historically of course the level of complaints was much less under that regime as IFAs had a more important and dedicated service to offer all levels of clients.

    That of course will no longer be the case now, and the consumers will suffer.

    All clients were always profitable, it was just the level of profit which differed between the well off and the less well off that was the issue.

    Are we now solely to be driven in our provision of services that "PROFIT" is the only movtivation, I am not naive, I know I trade for profit to pay my way, but the level of profit differs from client to client according to their needs, surely we can devise a system for IFA services that takes that into account, I am and always will be, the servant of my client, not their master.

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  • Ned Naylor is spot on, make this guy the head of the FSA immediately.

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  • Seems to me that the vultures like Friends Life & Decide2 are circling the once cherished IFA mid market clients that are now to be sacrificed on the altar of the mis-conceived mess of RDR!

    The whole point was to make clients more self reliant & take responsibility for old age & protection on there own - not being reliant on the State. This RDR will have huge ramifications of millions of people being ripped off at these 'Secondary' Adviser's - or probably worse still - the BANKS!!!


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  • WOW, finally someone in financial services that is talking sense and actually thinking about what is best for the clients.

    I totally agree with everything Ned Naylor said above. RDR will be yet another FSA disaster and will lead to the industry getting an even worse reputation than it already has with potentially millions of "mass market" clients being ripped off by telephone based "salesmen", working for Banks and selling any old rubbish just to hit their targets and with no recourse for the client as it will all be "execution only" business.

    RDR should be scrapped along with the FSA. The sooner we get back to "proper" advisers sitting in front of clients and discussing with the client what is best for the CLIENT, and not the FSA, the better.

    Mr Naylor, I fear that you and I are a dying breed. The FSA does not want people like us in the industry; they want the Banks to dominate all forms of financial services and there is no room for truely "independent" advice in their business model.

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