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Standard Life accused over ‘win an iPad 2’ IFA client letter


Standard Life has been accused of attempting to take direct business from IFAs through a client letter mailshot.

A letter sent directly to Standard Life customers says they could win an iPad 2 by filling out two pages of personal details.

On the final page, the provider asks the client to fill out the name and address of their financial adviser. Beneath this it says, “If you no longer deal with an adviser, please tick this box.”

Standard Life says if the customer ticks the box trail commission payments to the IFA will stop. The provider says the payments will not be rebated to the client as they are built into the product.

A spokesman says: “This is an exercise in checking the accuracy of customer records and therefore this information needs to come from the customer.

“In order to meet customer expectations, comply with data protection guidelines and fulfil our provider TCF obligations, we want to ensure the customer information we hold on our records is accurate, up to date and relevant for use now and in the future.

“If a customer updates their records to remove their IFA we will stop the trail commission in accordance with business as usual processes. However if the adviser re-establishes the relationship with them, we will ensure they are added back onto our records.”

Bateman Jarvis managing director Ian Jarvis says: “It would appear that Standard Life are seeking, at the lure of the chance to win an iPad2, to transfer clients to their direct service operations and cut out the IFAs who originally placed the business with them.”


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There are 26 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. A sign of things to come.

  2. I see this as a great exercise for Standard Life to complete, keeping records up to date should be admired.

    This shouldn’t be a concern for IFA’s who actually provide an ongoing service to their clients for the trail commission they receive, for the IFA’s that don’t provide on-going service, then why should they receive trail for doing nothing!

  3. I wonder if Standard Life got permission from Apple to promote an iPad giveaway? Apple don’t like you doing that…would be a shame if someone dropped them in it…

  4. Disgraceful behaviour. What will the FSA do about it though?

  5. TCF?
    What about treating fairly, the advisers who put the business their way, in the first place?
    I think I will TCF my clients & move them completely away from Standard Life.

  6. They are obviously desparate. If they ‘want to ensure the customer information we hold on our records is accurate, up to date and relevant for use now and in the future’ then why not ask the client to tick a box confirming their name, date of birth and address as being correct.

    They will have the current adviser details logged
    against the client and it is not their role to check if the adviser is providing service or not to warrant conitnued trail commission.

    Looks like another provider wanting to distance themself from the people who have made them what they are today.

    Good luck to them, and let’s hope they suddenly see a wave of transfers and surrenders (obviously for the right reasons).

    Now, who else provides ………?

  7. Lets just stop supporting these Life Offices. They have relied on the IFA community for years and this along with the AXA Annuity just shows what to espect from them moving forward

  8. ….trail.. renewal or both…?

    ….sorta move that really endears you to a provider especially if they are writing to their client base en masse……

    I trust they will be informing the IFA…

    (2 pages of details… that’s nearly a fact find.. :-))

  9. If the investor thinks that they are no longer involved with an agent, it will only be because they are no longer being serviced by that agent.

    As such, why should the agent continue to receive trail?

    It’s not like SL have been really underhand by offering a pitiful rebate to the investor, which would still be a substantial saving compared to trail.

    It’s this negative attitude that damages the industry…….

  10. This ‘facade’ about servicing is just a smoke screen – it’s payment in a lot of instances for indemnity that has been forfited up front!

    Don’t you holier tha tho adviser’s realise you are giving more ammunition to the FSA to use you as theIr ‘whipping boys’

    With you lot pontificating all the time there won’t be an IFA SECTOR Left – AS EVEN YOU LOT WON’T BE ABLE TO AFFORD THE FEES!

  11. I would agree with Brian if Standard Life credited the trail to the clients account. However this is simply an exercise to avoid paying trail to anyone.
    Standard Life have very low ethics & any adviser would be sensible to move clients away from the Life Offices.

  12. What is fundamentally wrong with this scenario is that the client does not receive any trail that is no longer sent to an IFA.

    “The provider says the payments will not be rebated to the client as they are built into the product”

    Does the above line make any sense to anyone – other than Standard Life, whom get to keep more cash for nothing?

  13. The providers can no longer compete and have had it far too good for far too long.

    I have reported on here before the full circle of events that will happen. Traditional product providers will move to a direct offer and direct adviser basis, like the old days.

    This will be good for the industry as a whole as advisers will be trained and at some point move to an IFA status, bringing new blood to a shrinking industry.

    But they will walk over any IFA to protect their future existence, so prepare yourselves and make sure you continue to provide your clients with a the service they deserve.

    A liitle thought… I wonder if SL and others are as pro-active with their legacy business…???

  14. This is life. Standard Life are a commercial organisation, with expectant shareholders, who are dependent on the company talking a successful and aggressive sales strategy.
    IFAs live in monasteries living a life of unbelievable purity (as per FSA regulations).
    Its also known as a French Farce.

  15. This comes a week after another provider did the same sort of thing with the tick box if I remember correctly..
    Are the providers in cahoots with Ivan and his new venture….?
    we have noticed an increase in the number of clients asking about commission we are getting the last few weeks….

  16. Firstly, Standard Life’s records should clearly show the IFA for all their policyholders, so there’s no need to ask the client to enter that information on a form.

    If Standard Life had any respect for the adviser:client relationship, any such communications would be sent to the IFA, not direct to the IFA’s client. Other than the yearly valuation statements required by the FSA to be issued directly to clients, no other material whatsoever should be sent directly to clients. But try telling that to Standard Life and you get is a fob-off ~ this is what we’ve decided to do and there’s nothing you can do about it.

    And since when has it been any of Standard Life’s business to question the client as to the level of ongoing activity between him and his IFA?

    This is further affirmation of our decision, as of 6th April 2001, not to place with Standard Life any business whatsoever.

  17. Only a few days ago I had questioned our Standard Life Consultant on Standard’s practice of direct mailing and he assured me that we, as IFAs should not be worried. Well worried I was and worried we should be; Standard Life’s practice of contacting our clients is endemic with what is facing the IFA community and it is very unlikely that we can look forward to any help from the FSA in this matter. The only solution is to stop placing business with Standard Life, Axa Wealth and any other Firms. This may convey to them our sentiments? Unlikely though!

  18. Stephen @ Create Wealth Management Ltd 10th December 2011 at 11:46 am

    Who uses SL anyway? We havent had cause to place any business with them in almost 10 years! Their product charges dont stack up against others in the market who can offer equal or better products for less. Passing them business because you ‘like’ dealing with them or find their admin satisfactory or worse, because you get invited to dinner or gold simply isnt good enough. If you want them to change their ways, starve them of business and watch them change. It’s simply supply and demand, hurt them where they feel it the most…new business.

  19. Lads & Ladies, will the last one out please turn off the lights

  20. Overall I’m really happy with my Kindle Fire. I was initially frustrated with the wifi issues which seem very common with lots of other users. I downloaded the nook app from so I could access my B&N content for free using the Android marketplace and also got some help on sorting out the wifi. Everything is working great for now and I’m customizing with all my usual apps.

  21. We have lost to customers (not clients as there is a difference, with clients being ongoing service and customers transactional). These were old transactional clients where we recieved renewal as I had chosen to take less up front commission (yes commission as these were contracts from about 2003 I think, whihc was before we started CAR or adviser charging).
    Standard Life wrote saying a new “adviser” had been appointed. I will be writing to the client t check who thata dviser was, as if it turns out to be Standard Life itself, then arguably, unless the client (and I know one of them had chosen NOT to be a client as she felt she had learnt enough from me that she could now make decisions wihtout advice) has appointed an external “adviser”, which is unlikely, then Standard Life have breached all manner of rules as the letetr could be said to be fraud if they have sent a letter out saying new adviser appointed, when they are NOT giving advice and are retaining the commisison for a service not being provided.
    Fan and hit may occur in the New Year if I find that to be teh case as whilst I am happy for the customers to choose to use me for advice, or any other adviser (for which adviser charging means most of us will offset any commission received), I do not agree that Std Life can steal clients and then expect us to continue to hold client files indefinately (No longstop don’t forget). In additiona as Std Life may have told ME and the client they are now teh “adviser” and not the agent on the agency, they are assuming responsibility for providing advice, without udnertaking adequate KYC.

  22. This was underhand. I have had several clients quite concerned about the change of adviser, which was not a change at all but a direct attempt by standard life to retain commission for themselves. Despite some comments in this thread I do look after my clients very well but they still ticked the box on the form and then stated that they didn’t mean to, now standard life want me to reinstate the client. I don’t deal with SL as a company any longer due to several underhanded attempts over the years. I will never use SL again and were I can identify the possibility of transferring a client out at no cost I will be doing so, ultimately not having anything further to do with SL for the rest of my career. I have filed an official complaint to SL about this and I am waiting for the outcome, inevitably I will recieve the typical mealy mouthed lame excuses for thier actions, but I won’t be letting them get away with it this time. They are a disgrace to the industry and to the advisers that has supported them over the years. A message to any other company out there, if you want to permanently destroy your business relationship then simply follow the lead of Standard Life, unscrupulous, underhand, unprofessional and unforgivable.

  23. Without commenting on the SL case in detail, as a client, I have been infuriated over the years by IFA practices such as transferring my files to an adviser I did not want to deal with in any way when the original IFA shrunk their business.

    One of the provider companies to this day (perhaps 10 years later) still shows this firm as my adviser and presumably pays them commission, although I have never used their services, they have never contacted me, and I have told the provider that I don’t wish to have an adviser on this policy/bond.

    Such practices appear to be common in the IFA community.

    I think that’s the other side of the coin, isn’t it?

  24. The only reason clients would complete this is to win the iPad, they dont want to spend much time on it and giving them these two options – one of which involves looking up an address and doing some typing while the other just requires a tick in the box must give a very high probability that most will just tick the box. It’s not even clever.

  25. Standard Life are moving towards a direct to consumer offering, of that there is no doubt – just one glance at will show you their relationship with the Financial Advice community is on the wane.

    If your ‘service proposition’ amounts to nothing more than filling in a risk profiler and recommending a bunch of MoM / FoFs, be very afraid!


  26. Julian Stevens & Phil Castle’s comments are very good.
    All IFAs who introduce business to a 3rd party over a number of years to find it disappeear at a tick of a box should be concerned.
    This debate has a long way to go, but life company practices in general need to come under the spot light to ensure your business model is suitably protected.
    I will now be carrying out further due diligence in order to protect both the company and our clients.

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