ABI could ‘unravel’ after Aegon exit

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Aegon’s decision to exit the Association of British Insurers increases risks of the trade body “unravelling” as providers look to push their own message to policymakers.

The annoucement that Aegon would quit the trade body earlier this week means the ABI has lost two members in just over a year, with L&G confirming its own departure in August 2014.

One lobbyist, who asks to remain anonymous, says: “Companies now have terrifically different distribution bets. People are getting to market in different ways, their pricing is different, their approach is different and their message is different.

“So it’s actually quite difficult for many firms to come together on some of the regulatory and product issues as a trade group, and people now want to market in their own way and under their own brand.”

Regulatory consultant Richard Hobbs adds that for life businesses, in particular, there is an open question as to whether the ABI is the most effective choice of representation.

Citing the potential sale of Aegon’s UK annuity business, Hobbs says providers are reviewing their own strategies, with businesses like L&G now closer to asset managers.

He says: “There is a now a risk of the ABI unravelling, which would be unfortunate.

“I imagine that the ABI board is thinking very hard about this at the moment, because they will need to formulate a response to the departure of major members like L&G and Aegon.”