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Multi-ties responsible for own fate

At the start of depolarisation, firms could choose to recommend products from the whole of market, from a limited range of providers or from one provider only.

Limited range became known in the sector as multi-ties. Now it appears that multi-ties have been defined by the FSA as “firms tied to more than one product provider”. This is contained in the retail distribution review interim report.

Adopting this definition might explain the idea to split distribution into advice and sales, with multi-ties falling into the sales category. We should not criticise the FSA for coming to this conclusion. Generally, multi-ties have brought this on themselves.

There were two ways of adopting limited-range advice. The first was to create a small panel of providers which each offered their full range of investment products in competition with each other.

The other was to create a best of breed, where each provider was chosen for a particular product. The driver behind this method was to get the maximum commission from providers. I would suggest that the FSA’s definition applies to this type of multi-tie.

When Burns-Anderson created its multi-tie proposition, we took the view that a limited-range offering should, in effect, be a mini-IFA so we took the first option – a small panel of five providers, each of which offered a full range of investment products. The aim was to create a stepping stone for, say, mortgage advisers to develop into full financial planners.

We thought this was not only fairer for customers but also a good way of developing the next generation of advisers. If this approach had been adopted by all firms, perhaps multi-tie would have fallen on the advice side of the fence.

Adrian Lewis

Head of marketing,

Burns-Anderson

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