Britannia Life has defended its decision to pull out of the IFA market despite new research which shows that its broker consultants were highly regarded by IFAs.
According to a survey by Centaur Research, Britannia Life's broker consultants' performance was voted one of the top three out of 18 life offices in 1997. It came equal third with Skandia, after Standard Life and National Mutual.
The survey shows that Britannia Life's performance was also improving on the previous year. Its penetration of the IFA market was increasing, as it dealt with one-third of IFAs, up by nearly 50 per cent on 1996.
It also came second when IFAs were asked to rate which broker consultants had improved compared with the year before. Eagle Star was the most improved and Clerical Medical was third.
Britannia Life quit the IFA market in December, leaving about 400 staff facing redundancy, blaming cut-throat competition.
But Centaur Research managing director Henry Samuels questions whether it was the right decision, based on the inroads the broker consultants were making in the IFA market.
Britannia Life managing director Des Hudson says: "We had a successful but small team that was punching above its weight. But the business that it could gather was always going to be under pressure.
"I could not see any likelihood that the business was going to change for the next three to five years and that meant we were unlikely to make a worthwhile profit."
The survey was carried out by the IFA Sales Force Audit, which is the biggest interviewer-administered survey of the IFA market. It interviewed 1,100 IFAs on their attitudes to the sales consultants of 18 major life offices between October and November 1997. Centaur Research is part of the same publishing group as Money Marketing.
Who was right? p48