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Friends Life client letter raises adviser fears

An adviser has raised concerns about a Friends Life mailing to Axa Sun Life customers asking for confirmation of the status of their relationship with their IFA.

Friends has been writing to Axa Sun Life customers since it rebranded in March, marking the integration of Friends Provident and Axa’s UK life business under parent company Resolution.

The letter notifies clients of the name change and says: “With these changes in mind, we wanted to make sure that your records with us accurately reflect your relationship with your financial adviser.”

It states the name of the adviser held on file and says if clients are happy to keep their existing adviser, they do not need to do anything.

The letter says clients can contact Friends Life to be put in touch with their existing adviser, appoint a new adviser or ask for the adviser to be removed from its records.

Woodcocks financial services manager Brian Ollerton says he had to reassure two of his clients that he still acts on their behalf after they were sent the letter and got a follow-up phone call from Friends Life. He says his clients understood the letter to mean they should contact Friends Life about their policy.

Friends marketing director Jo Cann says: “We just want to make sure the customer knows who the adviser is and to let us know if that is not the case.”

Cann says the mailing will be broadened out to Friends Provident customers at a later date.

Ollerton has questioned why his clients were written to as the business was placed with Axa within the last 12 months. He says: “This is far too aggressive for my liking.”

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Comments

There are 19 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. I can’t find much that is unreasonable with the content of the letter. If they are happy with the adviser’s details they don’t need to do ANYTHING.

    It could hardly be called aggressive.

  2. Interesting, I accept the this was a ‘re-branding’ but to be fair perhaps they should have written to the adviser in first instances?

    Agree with Anonymous (12:30 pm) is not aggressive, although more thought by including the adviser firms might of helped.

  3. I agree with the previous comment however if you are in a situation whereby your client bank has been segregated and the income generated doesn’t warrant a ‘service’ level then any trail commisison could be lost.
    It would be more appropriate if Friends Life wrote to the IFA asking for clarification as we made the initial recommendation. Any chance we get (ASSUMING IT IS CLIENTS INTEREST)we will now take clients away from Friends as we did Co Funds.

  4. re anonymous at 12:30pm. Do you work for Friends Life by any chance?

    I’ve not seen the mailing, but given that the business referred to in the article was written less than 12 months ago it would be unusual if the clients didn’t know who the adviser was. Also, if the clients didn’t have to do anything why the follow up call?

  5. Not wanting to appear too defensive but why do they feel the need to conatct the client? We are the agent unles otherwise advised. In a world where costs for all are rising, what is the motivation for Friends to be doing this? Is there an alterior motive?

  6. Where the client replaces the “adviser” with a new adviser OR FL itself, that is fine provided the new “adviser accepts responsibility/liability for suitablity of keeping the policy on force. Any errors in the original set up to date of change of agency complained about should remain the responsibility/liability of the original adviser, but any increased loss after that date, should be the new adviser….
    Many of us are segementing clients and whilst not pushing them away, if they do not want to pay for an ongoing level of service are happy for them to change agency and have trail go elsewhere, but why should we continue to store a file infinately (as there is no longstop) if the costs of storage is no longer covered as the trail has been stopped….

  7. Cannot agree with the above the approach is intrusive.
    After all the relationship between the adviser and the client is exclusive.
    A provider eg friends Life should ahve no interest in the client adviser relationship.

    An IFA would most likely and correctly be acting on behalf of the client with a numbver of providers.

  8. Small squall in a teacup.

  9. Is Ivan Massow the IFA they would put the client in touch with ….? 🙂

  10. re comment at 12:45

    Any chance we get (ASSUMING IT IS CLIENTS INTEREST)we will now take clients away from Friends as we did Co Funds.

    Using ‘in the clients interest’ as a cover to move business, which is simply a trick to convince those who trust they are given appropriate advice that change is needed, no wonder change in this industry is required.

  11. This is clearly Friends trying to find punters for their new (AXA Life derived) “Planwise” service – https://planwise.friendslife.co.uk/pub/what-is-planwise.html

    Couple this with their new customer loyalty program (again inherited from AXA) and their intentions become clear. http://www.friendslifeplus.co.uk/

  12. Seems more like it could be a way for them to increase profits by keeping any renewal commission that may have been paid to a previous advisor.

    The question would have to be that if the client did contact them and they said they were not being looked after by their previous advisor would 100% of the renewal commission that was being paid be put back into their policy or would FP keep it?

    l suspect others will follow this course as well.

  13. Any adviser worth their salt clearly has nothing to worry about, and should have absolutely no difficulty explaining the (perfectly well written) letter.
    No, I don’t work for Friends Life.
    If Brian Ollerton has issues with his clients understanding plain English, then perhaps he should seek out clients who can interpret a letter, otherwise we must assume they wont understand any of the documentation they received when they took out the plan with him/ AXA.
    Typical over- reaction from adviser looking to create something over nothing.

  14. Well done “Anonymous” at 1.17pm
    What great advice you offer- cancelling a clients plan because of your personal issues with the provider, regardless of whether its in the client’s interests.
    Bravo- what an example you are setting to the consumer!!

  15. I haven’t (yet) seen a copy of this mailing either, though why has FP deemed it either necessary or appropriate to say anything other than “Our records show your financial adviser to be XYZ Financial”? Just leave it at that. Why pose any question as to whether or not the clients “are happy to keep their existing adviser”? It seems to be raising a doubt where, in all probability, none exists.

  16. Actually, Friends has a history of cross-selling and other anti-IFA activity. This could be the thin end of the wedge so IFAs should act now and dump Friends. Perhaps other providers will then take heed !

  17. I personally believe that the IFA that sold the original plan to the policy holder should contact the client and explain that Resolution bought up the company and that their original insurer is no longer the provider of the policy.

    I would also tell my clients how their policy holders are now classed as open and closed book, and that if they need to make a claim in the future, they may not get the service they had expected ( and that FSA does not seem to have any concerns about the mergers in the market and thus very little future competition and care for aftersale matters). Would the client be happier if we did a review and possibly, if it is the right thing to do, replaced the policy with another provider??

    I am disappointed to read that it is being moaned about that Friends Life is contacting the policy holder.

    If the IFA that sold the original plan had got in there first, s/he would have had very little to worry about.

  18. Do not agree with them writing re the adviser. It seems that they look to be poaching your client as with some Mortgage Lenders.

  19. I have a copy of this letter and I can tell you it is clearly worded with the intention of removing the advisor – this option is in big bold print on page one with the other options being in much smaller print on page 2. There is no comment about the value of advice, independent or otherwise, so it reads very much as if the client would be better off without the advisor.
    Worryingly this has happened some 6 months after I changed the agency on the plan to my new company so clearly FP’s records are a long way out of date too.
    Wether it is right or wrong to do this is open for debate, but it clearly shows a strickingly low level of respect for the intermidiary relationship.

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