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Guided sales dividing the product providers

Product providers are split over the FSA’s plans for guided sales, with Skandia and Aegon warning they could be detrimental to the consumer but Fidelity positive about the channel.

Skandia strategy director Michelle Cracknell says that the introduction of a clear separation between advice and sales is a progressive step but guided sales would blur the distinction between those categories.

She says: “A ‘fast, streamlined process’ will be so crude that it could end up delivering sub-optimal results more often than not and therefore be damaging for the customer and the industry. Even if there is a warning – along the lines of ‘this is not advice but rather an explanation of what most people in your situation do’ – the customer would have perceived that he has received a strong recommendation, that is, advice.”

Aegon head of corporate affairs Francis McGee says: “We must not focus on building the sales side at the expense of advice. One of the original aims of this review was to bring affordable advice to more people. But the headline option for a simplified market leaves a huge gap between regulated independent advice and non-advised sales and money guidance.”

Fidelity head of IFA channel Peter Hicks feels guided sales will offer consumers more options and Fidelity is likely to have a presence in this channel. He says: “The guided sales option could be a win-win situation for fund providers and advisers as it would offer a middle ground by allowing guidance – such as using/creating platforms tools for customers – that could lead to a sale. The changes will also be good news for platforms as they are well equipped to play a role in helping separate adviser remuneration from product price.”


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