Friends Provident International to exit UK offshore bond market

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Aviva-owned Friends Provident International is to withdraw from the UK offshore bond market as part of a restructure that will see the business move within Aviva Asia.

FPI chief executive Adrian Emery says the provider will be focusing new business growth in branches in the UAE, Hong Kong and Singapore.

However, “due to commercial considerations” it will not be open to new business in the UK offshore market, including Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

Existing customers will not be affected.

From 1 November 2015, the firm will only accept new business from residents of the UAE, Hong Kong and Singapore; and residents of South Africa and Qatar.

Applications from the same jurisdictions will also be accept where customers are members of Qrops, corporate applicants or settlors of trusts.

As part of the changes, the business will also reduce its presence in the Isle of Man with staff potentially offered roles within other parts of Aviva.

Any redundancies will form part of the 1,500 job cuts announced as part of Aviva’s acquisition of Friends Life.

Emery says: “I believe FPI is a strong business with potential to grow significantly across Asia and the Middle East, particularly in the high net worth and expatriate markets. Today we have spoken to our people about FPI’s new structure which will support the business’s future growth, bringing the business even closer to our customers and distributors in Hong Kong, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.”

AES International chief executive Sam Instone says: “The world is changing and the offshore arms of life companies can no longer distribute through poorly regulated grey market channels.

“It is great to see that Aviva and FPI have taken this bold move to lead the international market, and I would expect the four remaining life companies in this space to either follow suit voluntarily or be forced by regulators and client legal action to do so in the near future.

“The days of undisclosed, double digit commissions and stacks of UCIS funds/structured products being sold to investors are hopefully numbered which will be a great outcome for clients.”