Norwich Union sales and marketing director Peter Hales
“Looking back over 2000, one of the most significant issues had been the closure of Equitable to new business and the issues spinning off from it, particularly with-profits business.
“As a result, the industry is going to have to spend a lot more time on presenting with-profits with clarity. Regulatory attention is now firmly fixed on with-profits business because of Equitable and because there has been a boom in with-profits sales.
“We have seen the big getting bigger, not just us, but with many other providers consolidating. We have also seen the takeover of Scottish Widows by Lloyds TSB, Royal London buying Scottish Life, Royal Bank of Scotland taking over NatWest, Abbey Life sold to Zurich Financial Services and Friends Provident announcing plans to demutualise while Standard Life repelled the carpetbaggers.
“The consolidation has been accelerated by stakeholder and the intense competition on margins and price. Large companies have been competing for pre-stakeholder business, pushing smaller life offices on to the fringe through the intensity of the competition.
“The FSA review of polarisation means industry structure has been a major issue. But the industry has not seen it as the end of the world and the IFA sector has emerged this year as a strong force.”