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Axa Sun Life chief fears advice could suffer in RDR split

Axa Sun Life chief executive Paul Evans has attacked FSA plans to create a clear differentiation between advice and sales, warning it could shrink the advice sector.

Evans believes multi-tied and tied advisers should be able to keep the adviser tag despite suggestions in the FSA’s interim retail distribution review paper that they may have to refer to themselves as salespeople.

He says: “I think the RDR in its current form is getting a little bit too confused around labels and the adviser/ salesman label is potentially unhelpful. Is someone who is not whole of market but has high qualifications, advising on long-term goal planning, investment strategies and tax products with remuneration set by the customer, not really an adviser?

“Whether you are whole of market or not, to me, does not mean you are not giving advice to the consumer.

“One implication of the RDR could be that the consumers’ perception of advice is a smaller segment because multi-tie and single-tie advisers are no longer called advisers. There is a risk that a great number of people in Middle England will not be able to access what they are told is advice.”

Axa-owned Thinc Group currently has a mixture of single-tied, multi-tied and whole of market advisers but is reviewing its model.

Zen Financial Services IFA Mike Pendergast says: “I do not agree. The whole idea of an independent adviser is that they are giving advice to the client over what is the best course of action and if they are tied to one particular corporate, or several, they are just offering what is on the shelf and cannot possibly give best advice.”

Ernst & Young head of insurance sector Shaun Crawford says: “The important thing is that there is absolute clarity to the consumer over whether an adviser is only advising on a limited range of products.”

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