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Matthews says Friends will stick with

Friends Provident new chief executive Trevor Matthews, says he has no intention of disposing of Sesame.

Speaking to Money Marketing on his first day in charge last week, he made it clear that there is “no question” of the firm looking to sell Sesame.

Matthews, who was previously chief executive of life and pensions at Standard Life, says Sesame remains a core part of Friends’ strategy.

The company recently tried to sell IFA firm Pantheon, which it bought for £24.3m at the same time as Sesame, but decided against the move as it was difficult to secure a good price in the current market.

Matthews says: “The investment in Sesame was made to get a financial return and I believe that is what is happening. It also allows us to gain insight into what is happening in the marketplace.”

Matthews refutes the suggestion that Friends might look to merge with another life office and insists it has a strong future as an independent company.

Despite Matthews’ history as a champion of wrap, he says his appointment is not likely to see Friends resurrect the wrap plan it scrapped earlier this year. He says: “It is not top of the list at the moment but we would never say never. It is hard to predict where we might be in five years time.”

Matthews is pleased with the progress of the retail distribution review and believes it is already bringing about a step change in professional standards. He says he will look at the qualification level of Friends’ staff and whether or not its employees should be encouraged to reach diploma standard.

Charles Bellringer was appointed last week as interim chief financial officer at Friends and will stay in the post until a permanent appointment is made. Among his previous roles, Bellringer was chief finance and investment officer at Equitable Life between 2001 and 2002.

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