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Anger at Axa contacting bond clients direct

Advisers have hit out at Axa over an initiative to call investment bond customers directly, claiming it is trying to bypass IFAs.

Axa has piloted the initiative since May 2009, calling customers as they approach the fifth anniversary of their bond to remind them of its features and benefits.

In a letter to advisers this month, Axa says it will continue the initiative this year.

It says: “A large proportion of our bond customers surrender their policies on their fifth anniversary. Often, they have not taken advice which could result in you losing them as a client as well.”

Axa says it will refer the client back to the adviser if advice is required.

Premier Wealth Management managing director Adrian Shandley says: “Axa should also be duty-bound to tell the client that these are very ineffective tax products right now for the average taxpayer but they are not going to do that are they?

“The past is littered with examples of cases where insurance companies have contacted the client directly and cut the adviser out. Why not trust the adviser to speak to the client in the first place? Axa may have saved one or two bonds but advisers will turn off them.”

Chancellor Financial Management director John Smallridge says: “Axa may have given instructions to refer the customer to the IFA if advice is required but these customer services representatives will have targets to deliver returns. This is Axa’s way of controlling clients at the expense of the financial adviser.”

An Axa spokeswoman says: “That is certainly not the purpose of the programme. Axa strongly believes in the importance of independent financial advice and encourages customers to seek advice before taking further action.”

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