The future of stakeholder commission on group schemes is hanging in the balance again following Standard Life's revelation it will not offer a tree-walking service to commission-only IFAs' clients.
Standard says it has made the move because of fears that consumers will be confused over whether they have rec-eived financial advice or not.
It comes as life offices are also calling for further clarification on the FSA's stance on indirect benefits, claiming regulatory update 88 does not go far enough to allay stakeholder compliance fears.
The new confusion follows the publication of RU88 last month, which was issued by the FSA to confirm IFA commission can be paid when life offices either treewalk potential stakeholder scheme members, or populate schemes through direct offer advertisements, as long as these mailshots do not advertise the IFA that set up the plan.
But life offices say uncertainty still surrounds when commission is payable and are urging the FSA to issue further guidance.
Standard Life assistant general manager (marketing) Graham Storrie says: “We don't plan to extend the tree-walking service to commission-based IFA clients.
“We believe there is an extra compliance risk because consumers might be confused about whether they have been advised or not.”
Axa Sun Life head of business development Steve Bur-gess says: “We are not sure if we can pay other associated costs. If we are not even allowed to put any reference to the IFA on the direct offer material there is a potential for customer confusion. Does a telephone number constitute an 'advertisement'?” FSA spokeswoman Jackie Blyth says: “We would expect people to know what constitutes an advertisement and if they have any further questions they should raise them with the FSA.”