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Standard is top multi-tie partner

Standard Life is the most attractive multi-tie partner and Zurich is the least attractive, according to US broker Bear Stearns.

The firm’s report says Standard and Norwich Union are natural choices for multi-tie panels and the least threatened by depolarisation. Zurich and Pru come bottom of the table.

Eleven life offices are rated on eight criteria, inc-luding brand strength, products, IFA service, customer acquisition costs and commission. Although Pru and Legal & General are the top scorers on brand, they are the bottom two for IFA service and customer acquisition costs.

Research from Carisbrooke Consulting, published alongside Bears Stearns’ data, predicts that multi-tied RIs in networks will gain only an extra 2,400 a year in commission as the majority of the providers’ investment to get onto the panel will be absorbed by the networks and their shareholders.

Carisbrooke Consulting admitted its 2002 prediction that 70 per cent of the adviser market would multi-tie by 2008 now looks unlikely and says the multi-tie model has broken down because of several flaws.

Director Robert Wood says firms such as Standard and Norwich Union know that they are front-runners to be on multi-tie panels so they are reticent to pay extra commission or incentives to get on distributors’ panels.

Wood says: “Current deals do not appear to make commercial sense for prov-iders and, more important, do not appear attractive to IFAs.”

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