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Advisers must urge clients to support Standard mutuality

With postal votes due in by June 23, time is running out for IFAs who want

to influence the future of Standard Life.

The giant Scottish mutual is all too well aware of this and has sent out

sample letters to intermediaries urging them to advocate a &#39No&#39 vote to

their clients.

For IFAs themselves, and for UK consumers generally, the arguments are

clear-cut. The market is much better served by the presence of a giant

mutual.

As a plc, Standard would be a prime target for takeover, even at the

higher range of valuations suggested, reducing market choice. Yet, for

existing customers, the case is less clear-cut mainly because of the size

of the potential windfalls.

But those tempted to vote &#39Yes&#39 should note the harsh stockmarket climate

for financial flotations. They should also remember that Standard, as a

reluctant convert, is unlikely to offer terms as generous to members as

other more willing demutualised life offices.

The last few weeks have seen arguments raging between conversion advocates

such as Fred Woollard and life office analyst Ned Cazalet and Standard. The

life office&#39s worst mistake to date has been to threaten a writ against

Cazalet, which did not materialise, confirming that it is still capable of

its old sin of arrogance.

But arrogance is not a fatal flaw and if Standard can still provide good

performance and decent products while balancing the needs of existing and

future customers, it should stay mutual.

IFAs should put the interests of their clients first by writing to them

and advising them to vote for mutuality.

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