Scottish Life says the recent trend of life companies buying distribution is part of a strategy aimed at creating a new breed of direct salesforces to try to dominate the advice market.
The company says it is “quietly amused” by insurers which are buying up distribution and at the same time saying they are committed to the independent community.
But Friends Provident and Axa have hit back, saying their recent distribution buys are purely investments in the independent and multi-channel advice sectors and that distribution and manufacturing will stay separate in the long term.
Scottish Life says it remains completely focused on independent whole of market advice, will not sign multi-tie or single-tie deals and has no plans to set up a direct salesforce.
It says the retail distribution review could create a repolarisation of the market between professional financial planner and primary adviser and suggests the general financial adviser category may not survive the consultation.
It says: “We are convinced they are positioning themselves for a new breed of direct salesforce which they can dominate. There is no doubt that all this makes life tougher for mid-market IFAs but the news need not be bad for those who wish to embrace change and greater professionalism and move towards PFP status.
“To be a top of the market professional adviser or a quasi DSF controlled by a big brand insurer – the choice is yours.”
Friends marketing and UK distribution managing director Simon Clamp says: “Sesame and Pantheon Financial are autonomous organisations and it is simply not our intention to run them as anything other than independent entities in the long term. We bought them for their value as IFAs and IFAs will continue to be our most important distribution route.”
Winterthur Life spokes-man Paul Riddell says: “Axa will be keeping its distribution operations completely separate from its manufacturing divisions and Thinc Group will continue to remain an independent multi-channel advice business.”