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Direct salesforce numbers plunge but IFAs stabilise

Direct salesforce numbers have plummeted by 18,000 in the last year while IFA numbers remain steady at 28,000, according to PIA figures given to the LIA.

The total of IFAs and tied agents stands at 72,647 compared with 90,000 a year ago. With the number of IFAs still hovering just under the 30,000 mark, it means the direct side has borne the brunt of the losses.

The figures reflect the sale or disbandment of a number of high-profile salesforces in the last year, including Abbey Life, Colonial, Lincoln, Royal & Sun Alliance and Rel-iance Mutual.

Abbey Life&#39s 1,300-strong salesforce was sold to Allied Dunbar but some of the sales staff chose to become IFAs instead of joining the life office.

Many Colonial sales staff also became independent advisers, with 80 joining Misys network Countrywide.

LIA director of public affairs John Ellis says many direct salesforces have been cut back or experienced mergers.

Aifa director general Paul Smee puts the startling contrast down to the fact that it is much cheaper to distribute through IFAs than by direct means and that consumers value IFAs&#39 independence.

He says: “The costs of distributing through IFAs is significantly lower and there is evidence that the label &#39independent&#39 is important in the eyes of customers.”

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