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Royal row over Hargreaves Lansdown &#39scaremongering&#39

Royal & Sun Alliance and leading IFAs have accused Hargreaves Lansdown of scaremongering after it drew parallels between R&SA and Equitable Life and recommended policyholders to consider transferring.

Several top IFAs have dismissed comparisons with Equitable, saying R&SA has a parent company with shareholders and they are satisfied that it has the assets to match its liabilities.

Other advisers say they are reviewing clients on a case-by-case basis.

R&SA, which closed to new life business last month, is warning that policyholders transferring out stand to lose valuable guarantees.

The company also says it has the reputation of its global brand to protect by continuing to look after policyholders.

Hargreaves Lansdown received national media coverage after issuing a statement drawing parallels between R&SA and Equitable last week.

R&SA UK Life research & development director Neil Southworth says: “We are part of a worldwide group that is rated strongly by rating agencies.

“R&SA still sells general insurance in the UK – it is important to protect the brand by offering good service to life customers. It is dangerous to compare us with Equitable. We have the assets to match our liabilities.”

Whitechurch Securities chief executive Kean Seager says: “Drawing parallels with Equitable is what I would call scaremongering.”

Misys IFA Services research manager, protection and pensions, Dale Tranter says: “We are saying, don&#39t panic – a closed fund can be a reasonable place to be.”

Holden Meehan director Amanda Davidson says: “R&SA are not insolvent they have covered for their liabilities. It is very easy to panic people with emotive language. You can, as an adviser, create a panic.”

Hargreaves Lansdown pensions research manager Tom McPhail says: “All we are saying is that people should reconsider their investments in the light of recent developments. R&SA has very low solvency and we also have concerns about its staff pension. It is not a healthy company.”

•Comment, p23

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