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IFA accuses Aviva of bid to poach client

An IFA has accused Aviva of trying to poach his client although the provider says it does not have paperwork to indicate that the client belongs to the adviser.

Aviva contacted a client of Hereward Financial Services managing director Mick Jones two weeks ago without his consent, offering an appointment to discuss retirement options for an existing pension.

When Jones questioned Aviva why it had approached his client, he was told that the case was marked as orphaned.

Jones’ firm was an appointed representative of Norwich Union between 1993 and 1995 before joining DBS. He became a directly authorised IFA in March 2005 following the demise of Network 300.

Jones requested quotes for a pension top-up in 2005 and says documents clearly state the firm’s new name, client policy details and his role as agent.

In June, Money Marketing revealed that Aviva would be reviewing the script used by call centre staff to determine if a client is orphaned following another adviser’s complaint that the firm had poached one of his clients.

An Aviva spokesman says: “Aviva does not have a letter of authority on file indicating that Hereward Financial Services is the customer’s adviser.

“However, Aviva is taking this case very seriously and is conducting a thorough investigation. The IFA channel is Aviva’s biggest and most important distribution channel and we will be happy to discuss this issue further with Hereward Financial Services to resolve this case.”

Jones says: ” I do accept that mistakes can happen but surely the salesperson who contacted my client should have asked her if she already had an IFA. My client is annoyed that ano-ther department within Aviva has been furnished with her personal details without her knowledge.”

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Comments

There are 23 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. One of my clients contacted Aviva direct to increase their mortgage protection, Aviva cancelled the origional policy which resulted in clawback and set up new policy direct with client. They need to address these issues.

  2. the article does not make clear whether the IFA has been in contact with the client regarding this plan since 2005, however, if I had not been contacted by my IFA since 2005, I would consider myself orphaned.

  3. We had a client call Aviva about a general insurance query, afterwardsthey then directed him to a direct sales team who convinced him to cancel his policy with Aviva through ourselves and take one out direct with them at the same price. Aviva have done precisely nothing about it and clawed back our commission!!

  4. I’m with Keith Thompson on this. Has the IFA done anything other than requesting quotes for a pension top-up in 2005? The article doesn’t say. If the IFA hasn’t done anything else, then they haven’t really got much cause for complaint if the customer doesn’t consider themselves a client of the IFA.

  5. Why is anyone surprised? Norwich Union tried to remove all of the small Broker agencies a number of years ago and take their business direct, untill the IIB stepped in to give us support.
    These companies who merged, to produce faceless international organisations have not got a clue how to treat anyone fairly, TCF are words uttered by the FSA but only IFA’s have to adhear to the rules. Banks and Insurance companies can do as they please!

  6. Isn’t this a breach of data protection? In that AVIVA may have mis-used data regardless of if the comsumer felt like a client of the IFA or not.

  7. Anthony Stephenson 4th December 2009 at 10:45 am

    Well I’m not with Keith Thompson on this one, how could Aviva know the contact history or current relationship with the Jones client? I’m afraid this goes much deeper than the superficial administrative error this seems to be. Whilst providers are busy creating Wrap platforms for “IFA” business models, who do you think will be branded when clients inspect investment portfolios. Life offices are busy looking for market share in a more aggressive manner and will need orphan or neglected clients to feed their own sales force. Let battle commence!!!

  8. At the start of November I had a client who rang Aviva to request they change his Mortgage Life Policy to a non smoker rate as his wife hadn’t smoked for over 12 months.
    They advised him to cancel the original plan and re-write it direct with them causing us to be clawed back the commission.
    When I complained to Aviva they said they had followed the COB rules and it was just hard luck on our behalf.
    It seems cross selling to IFAs clients has become part of the culture at Aviva. For a company that says they value IFAs as an introducer channel I find this very strange bevaviour.
    In case you are wondering yes we have seen the client recently but he did not consider it necessary to concern us with what he saw to be an administrative amendment to his policy.

    Does make you wonder about the wisdom of using Aviva doesn’t it?

  9. Two points I would like to make:

    Active IFAs clients are unlikely to deal direct.

    Does Aviva not have a duty of care to orphan clients under TCF? If the IFA is doing their job they have nothing to fear

  10. I am currently awaiting a response from Aviva reference direct marketing to two clients for Life Assurance, their only connection with NU is via an Investment arranged by my firm.

    Their initial explanation was that they has general branch policies and the client information was derived from this, pity they didn’t bother to look at the clients names and address- My brother and Myself!

  11. AVIVA fully support the RDR and the need for the RDR, Says it all does it not?

  12. The client involved is in fact my sister in law. As you can imagine I speak to her quite often.
    I hope this helps to clarify this a little.

  13. I suspect this may well be a genuine error in Mick Jones’ case, but it is a systemic error and issue with AVIVA and hence one they and the FSA need to consider.
    I think the more frightening case is the adviser whose client has phoned for a “simple policy change”. This client and the adviser have been miseld and let down. 1. Was the client amde aware that the AVIVA “resale” was probably NON advised and hence teh client would have NO comeback if it transpired that replacement of the existing plan could have resulted in different CI terms, failure to pay for non disclosure on the new plan when the old plan would cover and if the adviser had a contractural fee agreement with the client fcor commission offset, that the client could be hit for the clawback? Did AVIVA ask ANY of these questions?
    These are systemic issues and IF as AVIVA say they are reliant on IFAs, they need to consider and document the systems they have in palce and the actions they will take in all these circumstances.

  14. We had a client ring AVIVA as he has changed bank details. They advised him that rather than pay the one outstanding policy, he should cancel the policy with ourselves and take a new one via them! When the client said no, AVIVA kept ringing our client to try to persuade them to change their mind! Eventually after the IFA complained to AVIVA the change of bank details went through and the policy stayed with ourselves.

  15. Not surprised….. I suggest we all stop sending them business.

  16. Leo-Kennedy Azodoh 4th December 2009 at 11:51 pm

    This is quite worrying. I certainly won’t be recommending Aviva anymore!

  17. Many years ago I arranged a pension transfer with NU for a client and have continued to provide a regular review/service to my client regarding this arrangement. He has now reached his SRD and I have been researching impaired health annuities on his behalf. My client has advised me that NU have telephoned him on several occasions regarding his pension benefits recently and, when my clients advised NU that I was their adviser and was dealing with this matter on their behalf, my client was told that NU had never heard of mer or my company! Fortunately I was able to obtain a much higher annuity from another company, so NU lost out and my client gained – excellent!

  18. I arranged a £250,000 pension to Aviva in October 2008.

    Aviva has arranged direct with the client
    (age 52) to take maximum TFC plus single life pension.

    All commission has been clawed back by Aviva.

  19. I have a longstanding client who phoned Aviva to make a minor adjustment to their protection policy.They too were advised to cancel the original plan [arranged via ourselves] and re-write it direct with Aviva, resulting in a reclaim.
    Aviva were not interested in my complaint and it appears any client is ‘fair game’.
    Incidentally, the client did not consider themselves ‘orphaned’, but simply felt it was an administrative matter. I have advised them on several matters since, and arranged new products NOT with Aviva..

  20. Doesn’t surprise me in the least. When I heard the news report a while ago that that Aviva was considering increasing it’s direct operation, I decided to place no moore new business with them if there were suitable plans available elsewhere. Its only where Aviva are the clear best case that I place business with them now. Eventually, I expect to have very little exposure to thsi company.

  21. Richard Brown, Managing Director, Moneynotion Limi 8th December 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Aviva is on our list of insurers where we only deal with them if we have to to retain the business.

  22. Boohoo, Michael Brayne – have we not finished banging that drum yet? The RDR is coming, and Aviva’s support or not would have been of little consequence. Your comment smacks of the kind of continuing sour grapes we’re seeing from advisers who have yet to adjust to the reality of the RDR – no, you don’t have to like it; but it is coming, and people are growing tired of the constant whining.

    Anyway, onwards: If Aviva do not have a relevant letter of authority on file, then where is the issue? Sure, they could ask – but where is the letter of authority?

    That seems missing from the article and commentary – if these are your clients, and you’re precious about them, then flag up that relationship; if not, be prepared to fight for them.

    And why not? This is, after all, a competitive market, is it not?

    I have no issue with providers going for orphan clients. They simply reflect the reality for so many advisers – that very little of your average adviser’s book is active.

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