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Resilient Axa sees buckets of buoyancy

Axa’s UK & Ireland business posted a 14 per cent increase in profits to £183m for the first half of 2008 from £160m for the same period in 2007.

Globally, profits were up 7 per cent to £2,195m for the same period despite “a very challenging” backdrop.

The company says the realignment of its support service functions will result in around 500 redundancies with an annual saving of £80m expected over three years.

Axa Life chief executive Paul Evans says: “We are recognising that we are not giving strong enough service to our intermediary partners and their customers and we have to improve this.”

Evans is cautious about the future outlook but is confident that continued investment from the launch of the new multi-manager investment company Architas and its wrap platform will boost growth in the second half.

He says: “Everybody thinks the market will be flat or down at the end of the year but we see buckets of buoy- ancy, for example, in the corporate market, which will remain strong unless there is a deep recession.

“There is further to go but the resilient and the strong will carry through and Axa’s global results demonstrate that we are one of the major players.”

Evans continues to argue that the FSA’s planned sep- aration of sales and advice is the wrong direction.

He says he supports the FSA’s efforts to increase qualification and professionalism in the industry but rem- ains firmly against the sales/ advice split reforms.

He says: “We have always been confused by the labels put forward and do not support the concept.

“We think that there can be a more pragmatic solution which creates the right level of understanding in the eyes of the consumer.”

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