Whatever the FSA may or may not decide on menus, disclosure and the rest, it is clear that new “distributor” models are already emerging.
Although we have known for at least a year that American Express was interested in buying into distribution long before the Threadneedle deal, we now know it involves a wrap account of some sort, a PI deal and one which involves taking stakes in IFA businesses although it is also hoping to attract fund management backing.
It is early days but could this be a move to loosen the life office stranglehold on distribution? No doubt, the life offices with their fund links galore will not be planning to give up without a fight any time soon.
A Zurich-backed distributor has also unveiled more of its plans to become a major player, including an IFA and a multi-tie under the brand Thinc although it has five divisions, including commercial finance.
It has been quietly building for some time now but hopes to recruit as many as 500 RIs and a sizeable portion of the business plan involves independent advice. So, even in the Zurich businesses, it is not always certain that the multi-tie is king.
Finally, Bates and David Aaron, two of the best-known IFA businesses in the UK, have joined the MoneyPortal stable, demonstrating that the much predicted consolidation among investment IFAs is accelerating although there are no striking shifts in the business model planned – at least not yet.
It does not look like anyone knows what this marketplace is going to look like any time soon. This is, after all, August and still the deals are coming through. Stability by 2007, anyone? Don't bet on it.