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Axa confirms 2008 platform launch

Insurance giant Axa broke radio silence today to confirm that it is launching a wrap platform in the early part of the first quarter of 2008.

But it denied that its entrance in the platform market comes too late. AXA managing director of distribution services Paul McMahon says: “It is later than others, but the market is very small and, frankly, maturing. I do not believe it is late in the game. Our timing has been quite considered and deliberate. It is a relatively small marketplace with a great deal of potential.”

The insurer says it sees the wrap platform capability as a turnkey element of change necessary to improving efficiency, transparency and helping adviser businesses grow. It says it is taking a consultative approach with advisers to the development of its proposition.

McMahon says Axa is working closely with its distribution arm, Thinc Group. He says: “We are working very closely with our own proprietary distribution business. It’s quite important to make that point. But they are an independently run business and have the same market quality thresholds to satisfy as any other business.”

Advisers should not expect to see a fanfare launch of the platform, which has been in development for the past 18 months, says marketing director Martin Jennings. Rather, roll-out will occur through a phased approach throughout 2008. He says: `”We need to be clearly listening to our launch partners and advisers, and watching the competition to bring the right components to market at the right time.”

The move into the platform market, involving development by Axa Distribution Services, will look at high net worth clients as well as seeking to expand into other clients groups, says Jennings. He says: “Traditionally people have looked on the platform as being for the high net worth and top end, but it opens up other opportunities too. You will see us feature in different sectors in the market. I don’t see us focusing on one particular niche.”

McMahon says there is room in the marketplace for a number of platform providers. He says: “It is going to be a competitive market space, but it is going to be a much much bigger market, perhaps £250bn by 2009-2010. Some would even speculate it will get much bigger than that.”

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