In response to Nic Cicutti’s column headlined, Direct Response in Money Marketing last week, he will be glad to know that I don’t have amnesia. Far from it, I remember only too well making investments in a number of IFA firms, since I was the one who recommended them.
Nic is right in saying that we invested with the intention of supporting the IFA channel, which in our view required some much-needed capital.
What we learned from that period, two notable exceptions being Tenet and Cavanagh, is that our support for the IFA market is better demonstrated in other ways.
Investing in programmes such as the Aviva Financial Adviser Academy, supp-orting over 6,000 IFAs to gain their qualifications, the Aviva wrap adviser transition programme, which assists IFAs preparing for RDR with business planning, customer segmentation, marketing and data mining skills, and the Aviva future adviser programme, which helps attract new talent by promoting financial advice as a worthwhile profession to graduates. This is in addition, of course, to investing heavily in products, online services and our brand to help stimulate interest from consumers – and IFAs are the main beneficiaries.
As for the hype around direct, let’s set the record straight. IFAs account for over 75 per cent of Aviva’s business and will continue to be the dominant channel for many years to come. Orphaned customers look to Aviva for support, long after the original adviser has moved on, and as a responsible business, you would not expect us to turn our back on them.
This in no way implies a lack of loyalty or comm-itment to our IFA comm-unity. In fact, we are working with IFA Promotion to ensure orphaned clients have the opportunity to access an IFA through IFAP’s website and not just an Aviva representative.
It may not be visible but we work relentlessly to promote our joint interests with the FSA and the FOS. We have been a long-standing supporter of IFAP, offering practical as well as financial support, and work closely with Aifa, recently sponsoring their 10th anniversary and currently carrying out joint research on how best to support future adviser models.
These are not the actions of a company that wants to bite the hand that feeds it. Instead, Aviva is absolutely committed to supporting IFAs before, during and after RDR.For the record, I’ve been at Aviva for 10 years, not five, and in financial services for 30 years. I have always been and always will be a champion of the IFA.
Chief operating officer Aviva UK Life