Questions over Pru distribution

Does the City understand distribution in financial services?

This may be an increasingly pertinent question as Jonathan Bloomer departs Prudential to be replaced by HBOS finance director Mark Tucker, although he previously spent a long time at Pru.

Bloomer’s perceived failings included springing a surprise £1bn rights issue on the City. He may have mishandled the announ-cement of raising the cash but the rationale – to spend a large proportion of it on streng-thening Pru’s distribution – made sense.

At the time, Pru’s move was contrasted with the announcement of Bradford & Bingley’s link-up with Legal & General,in which L&G effectively took over as the single tie. This was held up as the smart way to secure distribution. The City liked it but some of those involved in distribution were more sceptical.

Of course, neither strategy has proved itself yet. L&G’s multi-product single tie might very well allow customers enough choice of product to work well. Pru had taken a lead role in the development of several multi-ties, giving it a certain influ-ence but without guaranteeing business.

The City had found fault but if his goal was to be a serious player in the UK,was Bloomer wrong?

Now Pru has an HBOS man in charge. HBOS has made a fist of distribution in mortgages and banking. It is a significant player in the life, pension and investment markets but even it feels it has a long way to go. To do so, it plans to use both Halifax and Clerical’s IFA links.

At Pru, Tucker will have the disadvan-tage of no branch-based distribution alth-ough in Mark Wood, Tucker has a UK chief executive who had positioned the life office to win back IFA market share. Tucker faces several questions such as, can he hold on to Wood and will the City let him spend the money to make it in UK financial services?



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