A document package which details the reported “up for sale” status of Zurich’s adviser platform is being circulated, Money Marketing understands, as rumours run rife about the future of the business.
An information memorandum is “going around” but Zurich has refused to comment about any potential deal.
Ever since the Swiss insurance giant decided to sell off its workplace pensions business to Lloyds Banking Group a question mark has been above the door of Zurich Intermediary, market sources suggest.
The company previously pledged its commitment to the retail investment market after it signed the pensions deal with Lloyd’s-owned Scottish Widows, which was thought to also have its eye on Zurich’s platform.
Speaking to Money Marketing in 2017, Zurich retail platform strategy head Alistair Wilson said: “We have no intention of changing our strategy we have always had for our retail platform and we continue to establish our market-leading proposition in the retail wealth space. We are still fully committed to the adviser market, that hasn’t changed and has always been our position.”
In response to recent reports of the platform being up for sale with a price tag of more than £50m, Zurich reiterated its remains “fully committed” to supporting financial advisers and their clients.
A spokesperson said: “We regularly work with third parties to review the makeup of our business to ensure it fits with our strategy, and that individual parts are best structured to serve their respective customers and our distribution partners.
“We do not comment on the specifics of these reviews or speculation around them.”
Zurich has since held firm that it “does not comment on market speculation”, in response to questions from Money Marketing about the document.
According to reports Zurich is thought to be working with HSBC to find a buyer for Zurich Intermediary, with Aegon being cited as a potential buyer.
Aegon has also declined to comment on the “market speculation”.
Market commentators have suggested that Zurich could look to do a deal which gets them a “reciprocal deal on protection”, similar to its arrangement with Scottish Widows.
But they question who such a company could be as none of the platforms “particularly engage in protection.”
Zurich “demonstrated the strength” of its platform as it published its financial results.
The company saw its assets under administration increase by 15 per cent to £10.89bn for the second quarter of 2019 compared to the same period last year.
However, it reported net flows of £520m for the three months to 30 June – down 33 per cent on the same period last year.
Zurich also reported its inflows had seen a year on year drop of 19 per cent as it published its results yesterday.
It had a total of £969m inflows for the second quarter of 2019.
Zurich head of retail platform strategy Alistair Wilson said: “Given the challenging economic environment these are robust results, which demonstrate the strength of our platform.
“Our AUA is up from £9.48bn to £10.89bn – an increase of 15 per cent. Our multi-asset Horizon Funds have also continued to enjoy strong inflows, growing by a quarter from £438m to £551m.”
He added: “Although platforms inflows are lower as a result of external headwinds, this is in line with the industry as a whole. Despite uncertainty from Brexit, which has damaged investor confidence and led to inertia across the market, we have delivered a solid performance.”
An information memorandum is usually created by business owners for prospective buyers.