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Polarisation limiting choice, says Axa boss

Axa UK&#39s newly appointed chief executive Dennis Holt has attacked the polarisation regime, claiming it limits customer choice, and is pushing for radical distribution changes.

The former Lloyds TSB retail banking chief executive thinks multi-ties are the best way forward.

Holt has taken over as Axa UK boss following the departure of Mark Wood to Prudential this year.

He says distribution is critical and says he will bring to Axa the experience of running bancassurance operations with Scottish Widows through Lloyds TSB.

He says he wants to transform Axa from being a traditional product provider to become a wealth management offering.

But Holt believes the IFA sector is essential and will still be critical, whatever the outcome of the polarisation review. He bel-ieves the Axa brand is a powerful tool to build distribution opportunities.

Axa is in the process of phasing out its IFA brand, Sun Life, from its product range.

Holt is concerned that consumers could lose out through the extensive industry reviews taking place. He thinks the reviews have the potential to scare consumers away from savings products.

Following rival life offices&#39 recent withdrawals from the stakeholder market, Holt stresses Axa&#39s determination to be a serious stakeholder contender despite the pressures of working within narrow margins.

He says insurance companies have no excuse not to get their admin right.

He says: “I am not sure that polarisation has been in the consumer&#39s best interests because consumer choice is limited.

“Distribution is critical. It is the real differentiation between providers. Chan-ges to the IFA sector are inevitable but it will still be a healthy market.”

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