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A new dawn

With debate raging around the Retail Distribution Review and its related papers and continued talk of further market consolidation the traditional summer news lull does not look like appearing anytime soon.

(I use the term “summer” loosely, of course, given the ridiculous weather we’ve been having. Though the sun might be shining now, I give it a couple of hours before the rain is pelting down and I’ve donned an extra couple of layers.)

Cofunds is welcoming the FSA’s discussion paper on platforms with open arms, suggesting the amount of assets it holds and its transformation into a fuller offering puts it ahead of the pack in terms of moving into the new world of platform-held income.

By expanding its payment options for IFAs, Cofunds says the RDR poses no threat as it will provide a home for a breadth of client that other platforms will struggle to work towards.

Consolidation talk this week turns to manufacturing rather than distribution.

Friends Provident and Resolution’s proposed merger would create a new life company with a combined value of £8.5bn.

Both companies are keen to reassure the industry that it will be business as usual, in terms of the service IFAs receive, the brand they deal with and continued future growth and success.

Advisers might not be so sure, with the Money Marketing online straw poll showing only 34 per cent of advisers believe the merger would create a better company for IFAs.

Regarding Sesame, sales and marketing director Steve Young is absolutely adamant standards will not slide and the business would not be sold, giving his 100 per cent commitment and reassurance to members their experience will not be affected.

Friends and Sesame both insist the network and support service firm will continue to be run as a separate business, with its own board of directors and will only benefit from the merger of FP with Resolution Life.

This all might not matter anyway after suggestions that Pearl Group is attempting to scupper the deal.

The closed life insurer has acquired an 11.28 per cent stake in Resolution and is attempting in buy another 5 per cent as it investigates its own potential deal with Resolution. Watch this space.

And finally … Simon Chamberlain of Thinc Group has decided to leave the industry.

The outspoken Mr Chamberlain will leave quite a hole in the Thinc management team, one would imagine. He says he is heading back down to Cornwall to spend more time with his wife and young family.

Time will tell how successor John Simmonds will take the Thinc business forward under new parent Axa, but many in the industry expect he will soon carve out his own niche with a rather different management style to the inimitable Chamberlain.


Jerry Brown

Looking back on a 30-year career, the outgoing head of underwriting and claims at Swiss Re reflects that innovation in the protection industry has been stifled by the focus on price and pure protection which has made products more rigid. But he is proud of having helped to drag underwriting into the 21st Century and throws down the gauntlet to his successors to take the process further. Interview by Helen Pow

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