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Broadband could see Standard widen direct distribution deals

Standard Life chief executive Sandy Crombie says better internet technology could see the company targeting less affluent consumers direct but for now its distribution strategy is focused on wealthy investors through top-end advisers.

At a Standard Life IT conference in Edinburgh last week, Crombie said better access to internet facilities could open up a new direct sales channel.

He said: “I am from a very ordinary back ground but these days it is very difficult for us to reach my parents, as would have been. We cannot get through to them because if they were served at all it would be via banks who want this big transactional fee.

“In the future, if everybody at home has broadband and everybody is sophisticated enough to use it then potentially there is a route to them direct. It would be a great thing to be able to serve more of the population using our capabilities but reach them economically on a direct basis.”

Crombie said that for the time being, the firm is focusing on “a wealthier customer base served by more sophisticated advisers”.

He said Standard has no plans to sell through banks. “Banks will be extremely hungry for sources of revenue so they will not distribute our products on a basis that we would find attractive.”

Standard Life already offers cash bonds, equity Isas, mortgages and individual healthcare direct online.

Unleash Advice Partnership IFA Adrian Kidd says: “Is having broadband going to make people want to discuss pensions or insurance? No. If you can get advice from an IFA by way of not travelling or having an expensive meeting, then there could be an opportunity to offer a cheaper fee option.”

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