Advisers have questioned Old Mutual’s decision to drop the Skandia brand and say the timing of the announcement does not reflect changes being driven in the UK market by the RDR.
Skandia parent company Old Mutual announced this week it was merging the Skandia businesses within the Old Mutual group into a single business called Old Mutual Wealth. Skandia UK, Skandia International and the Skandia European businesses outside of the Nordic region will adopt the Old Mutual Wealth brand over the next two years.
Old Mutual’s recently merged asset management business, comprising Old Mutual Asset Managers and Skandia Investment Group, will come under Old Mutual Wealth but will be branded as Old Mutual Global Investors.
Plan Money director Peter Chadborn, who uses the Skandia platform, says Old Mutual is not a brand that UK clients are aware of.
He says: “Although the Old Mutual name means something to me, my clients are not likely to have heard of it. Thinking of how my clients would perceive it, my concern is Old Mutual is not a very contemporary or 21st century brand.
“Momentum had started to gather around Skandia’s recent announcements on its unbundled platform charging structure and its RDR product plans. This announcement means the business is starting from scratch again. It is unfortunate that such a global business decision came at a wrong time for the UK.”
Capital Asset Management chief executive Alan Smith says: “Frankly I was quite surprised by the announcement. Skandia is one of the strongest brands in UK financial services. Although the Old Mutual business has scale, from a retail investor’s point of view no-one has ever heard of it.
“I do not think the rebrand will do any major harm, but the timing was curious in the midst of the RDR, platform issues and everything going on in the UK market.”
Smith says Old Mutual will need to ensure it supports advisers with communication materials so they can explain the move to clients.
Lucian Camp Consulting founder Lucian Camp says most big international financial services firms are moving to operate under single, global brands.
He says: “Old Mutual is not a strong brand in the UK, but it is a massive financial services brand in its home country of South Africa. It would not be conceivable to drop that brand there, so clearly that is the brand it has decided to focus on.
“With the RDR being such a landmark event for the industry, introducing a different brand for the new era makes sense. New Old Mutual is likely to be fairly different from Old Skandia and the change of brand gives the opportunity to put the new proposition out into the marketplace.”
The Platforum managing director Holly Mackay says the market is moving towards greater convergence between platforms and fund managers, so Old Mutual’s decision is in line with that trend.
She says: “Fundamentally it is more about what the platform does, rather than what it is called. What will be more interesting is how the platform positions itself for the future.”