Axa is setting up a new website through which it plans to offer online advice on its own and eventually its competitors' products direct to the public.
The site, internally named eAxa, aims to build awareness on the back of Axa's FA Cup sponsorship.
But the move has stirred IFA concerns that it will pave the way for an online multi-tie.
The website will be launched this spring and will init ially sell life and pension products from Axa Sun Life, Axa Assurance and PPP Healthcare, plus the Woolwich's Open Plan account. It will also offer a share-dealing facility.
Axa is not revealing how it plans to offer online advice but is keen to allay any IFA fears that the direct venture could potentially sideline the intermediary channel.
Its internet-based strategy is based on a recent report from consultancy McKinsey which showed an opportunity for the provision of online advice in the UK market. Axa already has similar sites in Germany, France and Belgium.
Media relations manager Phil Hickley says: “We are looking to have a range of distribution channels to cater for a variety of customers. In the longer term, we will be selling more products than just Axa's through the open financial portal but this is not an attempt to move business away from the IFA channel.”