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The moral of the Standard story

Most IFAs are probably relieved that Standard Life is not to be embroiled in a costly, distracting demutualisation battle.

The retired lecturer David Stonebanks, who delivered his request for a demutualisation vote in a shopping trolley, has not filed a valid resolution, according to Standard&#39s lawyers.

This is, of course, the fellow who threatened to report IFAs to the FSA if they did not recommend demutualisation to their clients, a move that proved his skills of persuasion were on a par with his drafting ability.

If there had been a vote, most IFAs would probably have decided that, in pure financial terms for most of their clients, any payout from demutualisation would not make up for expected lower payouts from a plc. Best advice in most cases was probably to vote for mutuality.

Standard provides much needed competition for the plcs and is a vocal supporter of the IFA sector. Standard says its research shows that 72 per cent of IFAs want it to stay mutual.

The counter-argument is that only shareholders can achieve adequate accountability from the insurer. Standard made a poor call on the stockmarket a few years ago and has seen its assets dramatically reduced as a result. There have also been questions about the pay and bonuses of its top executives.

But the real issue is whether Standard is morally correct to ignore a resolution which had 1,420 valid signatories. Standard says its pollings suggest that the vast majority of policyholders do not want it to change but whether it is correct to refuse a vote remains debatable.

Like the Terminator, Stonebanks says he will be back. Money Marketing would rather that he reconsidered but expects him to begin gathering support again.

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