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Millfield boosts business and slashes branch offices

Berry Birch & Noble Financial Planning is setting up a financial advisory service aimed at UK medical professionals.

It will target an estimated 120,000 surgeons, doctors and GPs with
its new independent advice service.

Following the strategy of firms such as Cavanagh which specialises in
advice for professionals such as solicitors, BBNFP is aiming to rival
Wesleyan Assurance Society which has cornered the UK market for
medical professionals.

Wesleyan already offers products such as income protection
specifically designed for doctors and teachers.

BBNFP is aiming to recruit 40 specialist advisers who will work from
15 offices around the country. The new service will start operating
in the first quarter of 2005.

Chief executive Mike Cleary believes rivals may multi-tie, giving
BBNFP an opportunity to win business as an independent. He says:
“Depolarisation is making high-quality independent advice as
difficult to find for surgeons as for other leading professions. This
announcement clearly demonstrates BBNPP’S commitment to remain
independent while others restrict their advice in this market.”

Wesleyan Assurance Society managing director designate Craig
Errington says: “We already have existing relationships with 70 per
cent of the 120,000 medical professionals. No, we are not quaking in
our boots at this development.”

Millfield’s interim results show a 48 per cent increase in turnover
but also reveal that almost half of its operating outlets are to be
closed.

The integration with Inter-Alliance will see Millfield closing 14 of
its existing 22 satellite offices and seven of its existing 24
branches, with a number of locations being taken over by Millfield
Enterprise firms which are not members but which use the marketing
and support structure of the national IFA.

Millfield also anticipates making savings of 30 per cent on staffing,
with the majority of changes expected to be in place by January 1,
2005.

Turnover is up by almost half to 27.3m from 18.4m in 2003
while losses after tax and minority interests reduced to 4.5m
from 6.6m in 2003.

But cash balances dropped by over half to 4m from 8.3m in
2003, and Millfield has already drawn down 14m of the 15m
loaned to it by five product providers on completion of the merger
with Inter-Alliance.

Losses in Lifetime rose to 1.4m from 0.6m, which
Millfield says is a result of increased business expenditure
beforelaunch. After further investment from Norwich Union in October
Millfield now holds 24.7 per cent of Lifetime, with 10.1 per cent
held for resale.

Millfield anticipates launching its multi-tie proposition, Millfield
Alliance,on January 15 next year.

Chairman Richard Mansell-Jones says: “We believe that the new group
is well positioned to take advantage of the new environment for
distribution. We have significant scale, growing brand recognition,
fully independent advice, multi-tie advice and a whole range of
specialist value-added services for our clients. We are making
excellent progress integrating the two businesses and we expect to
realise substantial benefits in line with our integration plan during
the first part of next year.”

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