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&#39Don&#39t tree-walk our clients&#39

Staffordshire IFA Roberts Clark Independent Financial Solutions is writing to life offices to warn them off taking its clients through decision trees amid fear of losing stakeholder payments.

The move comes as Axa Sun Life unveils plans to deal with the FSA&#39s interpretation of the indirect benefit rules, which effectively blocks IFA commission if life office staff take prospective stakeholder clients through decision trees.

Roberts Clark says it will contact product providers to ask them to refer clients back without tree-walking.

IFA Jo Roberts believes this will increase admin for providers as well as IFAs. She says: “We have written to life offices and the FSA because we find the majority of employers feel forced into a position they do not want to be in and only want to comply with the law at no cost to the firm. This means paying commission over fees.”

Axa says the rules are not an issue in its strategy, which involves IFAs effectively “outsourcing” application form-filling with employees by paying Axa a fee for mailing customers. In return, the IFA will get commission on the individuals joining the scheme.

Axa Sun Life head of business development Steve Burgess says: “We will be oper- ating a two-stage process- first, getting employers to sign up to shell schemes and second, getting employees to join schemes, which is where there is a danger of breaching the indirect benefit rules.

“If IFAs pay a fee for Axa mailing members, they can then be paid commission.”

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