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Aviva doubles 2016 target for adviser numbers

Adviser hiring spree has picked up pace in 2017

Aviva has recruited 47 advisers to its restricted advice arm, exceeding its target of having 20 advisers in place by the end of 2016.

Aviva announced its plans to restart a restricted face-to-face advice business in July last year, three years after it cut its 120-strong team of advisers.

Speaking to Money Marketing, Aviva client advice director Andy Barton says the advice business had 20 people by November and has now recruited “up to 47”.

He says: “They are at different stages of the journey. Even though we are recruiting experienced advisers, when they join us they have to go through a detailed training programme to get back to a level where they can advise customers again.”

Of the 47 advisers brought in so far, 25 have gone through the full initial training process. Five of the advisers are also moving into management roles.

Barton says Aviva does not have a set number of advisers it wants to recruit to the advice business; it is focused on “quality not quantity”.

He says: “It will be whatever the number is based on the people who come through our pretty tough selection process. We had a fixed number to start but now it is ongoing recruitment based on the quality candidates.”

He adds: “We are planning to continue to expand when we find the right people. There is an increasing level of demand from customers as more customers who had not got an adviser c urrently find out about the service. We expect we will need to continue to grow.”

So far the recruited advisers have come from running their own individual firms, national advisory firms, wealth management arms of banks and competitors’ advice divisions.

After initially recruiting advisers in the South-east, Aviva now has coverage across most of the UK.

Gradual evolution

The provider’s advice arm currently offers at-retirement advice. At the time of launching it was suggested it might look to start helping people as they get near retirement to plan their savings and pensions up to retirement.

Barton says: “It is one of the areas we are keeping under review and it will depend on customer demand. At the moment it is definitely looking at the at-retirement market because that is the biggest driver for advice.”

The Aviva advice offering is a combination of a face-to-face and online service.

Barton says: “If you are one of our customers who is at retirement and wanting advice, the adviser would meet you and then the fact-find, the attitude to risk, the portfolio modelling would be done online with the client.”

He adds: “When the adviser afterwards is producing their suitability report, all the information is in the system. Just as important from a customer protection point of view, it is very accurate because the customer is checking it as the information is put into the system.”

Barton did not provide details on what Aviva’s financial expectations are for the advice business.

He says: “The whole drive behind the service is to be there to meet customer demand. What we are trying to do is satisfy that need. That is the reason the service is in place. This service fits in to complement the intermediaries who support our other customers.”

Aviva also offers a directly authorised model through Sesame Bankhall Group and a mortgage advice service. It inherited SBG through its 2015 acquisition of Friends Life.

The insurer told Money Marketing last year it had no plans to expand its ownership of advice firms beyond SBG following its decision to relaunch a face-to-face advice arm.

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