Esprit is calling for IFAs to stop fighting a “phoney war” in defence of polarisation and accept that any advice is better than none.
The move has sparked criticism from IFAs who claim Esprit, which is the IFA arm of Zurich Financial Services, is trying to introduce multi-ties through the back door.
In a newsletter to advisers, Esprit claims the real issue for IFAs should be the promotion of advice itself rather than independent advice.
It calls for IFAs to “take real care to fight in the real war, not some phoney side- show”.
Press officer Jeff Wagland says: “Esprit deals with IFAs but this does not mean it needs to slavishly defend the views of some IFAs. Esprit believes the view is in line with most IFAs. The important factor is to make people take advice. The two sides of independent and tied should not always stand with daggers drawn.”
But the comments have outraged IFAs. Michael Philips partner Michael Both has slammed the comments as two-faced. He says: “Esprit does not value independence and is trying to brainwash IFAs with this propaganda. IFAs are completely opposed to multi-ties. If IFA Promotion was still genuinely in favour of IFAs, it would not accept money from Zurich.”
But IFA Promotion chief executive Ann-Marie Martyn says: “We have always taken steps to promote independent advice. Consumers need to know all the options that are available to them.”