IFAs will be able to service mid-market clients profitably after the RDR if they develop web and phone-based arrangements, according to Standard Life’s new head of UK platform distribution Chris Divito.
Divito, who took over the role from Steven Sands in May, says there is no need to provide a face-to-face service when assessing risk profiles or collecting client information.
He says: “I totally disagree that IFAs cannot service their mid-market clients. I think it is possible for advisers to conduct a wealth management service without the need to carry out a face-to-face quote or risk assessment.
“It is possible to do a fact-find over the phone and a risk assessment via the web. The IFA just needs to work out how much time needs to be devoted to each client.”
Divito says his main focus currently is on increasing the level of assets on the Standard Life platform. He aims to increase assets by £1bn per quarter throughout 2011.
According to The Platforum, Standard Life increased its platform assets by £1.35bn in the first quarter this year, bringing the total to around £7.5bn.
Standard Life has not yet ventured into the corporate wrap market but Divito admits the firm has not ruled out launching its own proposition.
He says: “I think corporate wraps will have a place in the market. The people who cannot afford advice would be able to go down the route of taking investment services from their employer’s corporate wrap, where they can get access to the company’s Isa or shares. It is something we need to be aware of.”
Divito says Standard Life’s wrap is in talks over links with distribution firms and he believes there is still a lot of business to be done in this area but he adds that Standard would be reluctant to get into any deals where it is the exclusive platform provider.
Divito says: “We are working on a number of different deals at the moment with regional and national players but exclusivity is really difficult to do because IFAs want to have different propositions for different parts of their client base.
“It is not something we would be keen on because it puts a great deal of responsibility on both parties.”
With regard to the direct-to-consumer market, Divito vows that Standard Life will remain committed to the IFA market.
He says: “Right now the vast amount of new business comes via IFAs. Everything we are talking about internally is with IFA custom at the heart of it. We are looking to deliver the service they want.”