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R&SA aims for stronger IFA alliance

Royal & Sun Alliance says it is a year into its reorganisation and it has been leaping ahead into the IFA market.

The Liverpool-based life office says it is glad it made the decision to pitch for a bigger share of the IFA market.

R&SA says it sold its salesforce last year as it was no longer a cost-efficient channel and customers want independent advice.

Its research shows the vast majority of people no longer want to speak to a salesperson selling products from only one company.

Managing director (UK life) Stephen Pater says: “Nothing has made us doubt our decision to go with the IFA market. We have had strong support from it and we are confident we made the right decision.”

RS&A currently conducts 88 per cent of its UK life business through IFAs. It says its market share in IFA distrib-ution has risen to 5 per cent from 2.3 per cent in the past 12 months.

The number of broker consultants on the road has increased by 40 per cent to 126 from 90 in the last year and its sales figures have grown by between 20 and 30 per cent compared with this time last year.

R&SA says it has taken on board the views of 450 key intermediaries.

R&SA says it has hit all the targets for sending out endowment review letters and is informing customers of pot-ential shortfalls.

Sixty per cent of its endowment policies fall into the red or amber categories.

However, the company has been criticised by IFAs for scrapping the title of manager and replacing it with leader.

But Pater says: “Calling people leaders encourages them to be innovative and look at radical ways to satisfy customers needs. It makes a big difference as it makes people look outward rather than inward into our own company.”

The company has also come under severe criticism from IFAs for its administration. Pater says it acknowledges the difficulties in this area and has taken steps to remedy the situation.

He says: “We cannot hide from the fact that we have had difficult spells with regard to customer service and administration but it is getting better. Our staff are getting more used to the new system and we have staff dedicated to customer support.”

Pretty Technical Services partner Kim North says: “Its administration was appalling but it has spent an awful lot of time trying to get it up to standard and to succeed in the IFA market.”

R&SA wants to have its voice heard across the IFA spectrum but many IFAs say they have not heard from R&SA for a long time and they do not feel it has a loud voice in the marketplace.

Pearson Jones & Company director Nick Conyers says: “We are aware of R&SA in the background but we have not done a lot of business with it. In that sense, it has not succeeded in getting the message through.”

Towry Law Fraser Smith regional manager Patrick Murphy says: “I do not use R&SA and as far as I know it is not getting any better as a company. It has been so bad over the past two to three years that I have stopped using it for business.”

It seems that R&SA has made ground with some IFAs but it has some way to go before it convinces the sceptics that its reorganisationcan deliver.

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