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Fighting change to defend vested interests

Axa chief executive Paul Evans epitomises those who really are reluctant to change and prefer instead to defend their vested interests.

He is, of course, completely wrong and the FSA proposal in the retail distribution review interim report to separate advice from sales is the best consumer outcome possible.

When Paul claims this will shrink the advice market, what he is really saying is that it will shrink the “sales” market. The RDR is not confusing – quite the opposite.

The problem this creates for Axa is that its market is the multi-tied and tied adviser selling financial products with a minimum amount of advice included. The reality is very simple. If Axa wants its salespeople to retain the title “adviser”, it should simply do what the consumer wants and abandon the pretence.

It will not do this, of course, because what it has failed to grasp is the real distinction between advice and implementation (or sales if you prefer). Advisers advise, salespeople bundle up a little “advice” with implementation and only get paid if the consumer buys a financial product.

Why are they so uncomfortable with having to label themselves as “salesmen”? If their standards are high enough, they should be proud to use that title. Those who have consumers’ best interests in mind are delighted with the distinction.

Those who want to protect their vested interests simply bleat.

Nick Bamford
Joint managing director,
Informed Choice,
Cranleigh, Surrey

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