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‘Public prefer advisers to direct platforms’

Zurich considers direct-to-consumer platforms will not succeed and will cause conflict with the IFA sector.

Intermediary sales director Richard Howells says consumers like to have an independent third party to run financial decisions by, even if they are fairly confident investors.

He says: “I can see commoditised and simple products being sold remotely but for anything that is more complex than that, consumers will want an intermediary to confirm that their decision is a good one.”

Earlier this month, Standard Life head of communications Mark Polson told delegates at the Platform Evolution conference that its research shows there is a group of consumers who do not want to use financial advisers. He says: “These people might need access to the wrap market as well. We need to look at whether these people should be allowed to see all their investments and tax wrappers in one place and if so who is going to deliver that and how.”

Polson says more research is needed on what consumers would want from a platform.

He says: “Sophisticated investors would want different functionalities from IFAs and there needs to be a lot more work done in this area before anyone could launch a direct to consumer proposition.”

Howells says providers need to show more support for the IFA sector. He says: “In the post-RDR market, where platforms are more commonplace, the flow of business will slow. Providers that try to go direct to consu- mers will be biting the hand that feeds them.”

Polson says: “Standard Life derives the vast bulk of its business from the IFA sector and we would not do anything to disengage intermediaries from us.

“If we do develop a direct offering we would put clear blue water between the two, but that is a long way down the track and it is not something we are currently working on.”

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