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Union backing for Halifax IFAs over axe claims

Halifax IFAs have won the support of their staff union over their claims that they have been effectively made redundant after the bank&#39s decision to close its IFA arm.

The advisers claim Halifax is trying to avoid forking out for costly redundancy packages by forcing them to become tied agents.

Halifax says becoming part of its tied salesforce is a “reasonable” change of role. The advisers disagree and argue it is tantamount to redundancy.

The union usually works to keep members in employment but is supporting IFAs in this case. It believes Halifax could be avoiding substantial voluntary redundancy payouts and has sought legal advice on IFAs&#39 behalf.

The IFAs have sent letters to Halifax saying that bec-oming tied agents will mean deregistering, being restricted in the advice they give and suffering an overall loss of status. Halifax has not yet made its response.

But the union is urging IFAs not to make any rash decisions and to undertake the retraining Halifax has offered on a without prejudice basis.

However, a number of the advisers are willing to resign and take the case to an industrial tribunal.

The move to disband the IFA arm has surprised many industry commentators as IFA businesses are currently selling for a premium.

Bradford & Bingley bought John Charcol and its 150 advisers for £100m in February and Bank of Ireland bought Chase de Vere Investments and its 83 RIs for £110m in August. Industry insiders put the average value of an RI at £55,000-£80,000.

A union spokeswoman says: “Halifax would have to pay out a fortune if it was deemed it had made the IFAs redundant. These IFAs are saying they are being made redundant and should be offered the package. Our responsibility is to our members and we share their view. We are putting pressure on Halifax to do the decent thing.”

Halifax spokesman Ian Beggs says: “We acknowledge that this is a change of role for the advisers but we would encourage them to embrace this change. There is no question of making redundancies and we are not about to offer huge payoffs when we want them to stay.”

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