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Alas distribution! (or, a wry look at this week’s events)

When I consider some of the network strategies these days I can’t help thinking of Griff Rhys Jones and Mel Smith in their Alas Smith and Jones head to heads. Something along the following lines…

Griff: “I am thinking of setting up as a distributor of financial services. Maybe one of those multi-ties. All the rage these days. And at least I don’t have to walk up any more freezing mountains.”

Mel: “Why’s that then? Multi-tie eh? Why not an IFA? They’ve been around nearly as long as we have.”

Griff: “Well, apparently your multi-tie can reach lower down the income scale profitably. There are less agency agreements to deal with, they are easier to comply and because you can guarantee big chunks of business you get paid a load more by the providers.”

Mel: “Oh really. What about Lord Leitch then? He has lost a big firm. Spoilt his Perfect Day. They realised the wisdom of joining the Sage network so they can select from the whole of market.”

Griff: “Nah, your average IFA is just your – what’s the phrase? – bastardised multi-tie. They say they are independent these IFAs but you know – better call a spade a spade and a panel a best of breed selection where we found the best company for our clients’ needs who just happen to pay the best commissions too. Then you can be upfront about it. Never heard anyone say a multi-tie wears a halo. Never saw Money Marketing run a story like “FSA to ban multi-ties because they don’t live up to the rhetoric.”

Mel: “You say that. But Lord Leitch, who you might as well have called Lord multi-tie until last week, seems to think that independents are also intrinsic to his distribution strategy.”

Griff. “I suppose so.”

Mel: “And that is, of course, if you don’t want to listen to Lee Birkett. You know of Prestbury. He’s not Lord Prestbury yet, but maybe one day. Anyway he is sticking to mortgages and general brokers. Doesn’t want to bother with that expensive pensions and investment stuff.”

Griff: “The old investment stuff that made John Spiers, and famous double act Hargreaves n’ Lansdown so loaded.”

Mel: “Ah, but we are talking about multi-ties, not multi-millionaires. And that’s your discount broker model that goes all posh later once they move to Clifton. Or Mayfair. Anyway leaving the multi-millionaires out of it, what about Mortgage Times moving into what I believe is called the IFA space?”

Griff: “IFA space, the final frontier! Seen the mortgage market these days? What mortgage market? That’s just panic measures.”

Mel: Well, lots of the rest say they might move in that way. Home of Choice. Pension of Choice. Who knows? And I thinc you said you wanted a multi-tie. Of course there is also the commission/fees argument and your customer agreed remuneration and the – wispa it – RDR.”

Griff: “I’ve had enough. I’m going into ball bearing manufacturing. That’s where the margin is.”

Mel: “I agree. Factory gate pricing. Definitely the way ahead. Where do I sign?”

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