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Virgin in U-turn as it asks IFAs to sell GPPs

Virgin Direct plans to work alongside IFAs despite a previously fraught

relationship with the industry.

The move comes just weeks after Virgin slammed IFAs for neglecting

employees in GPP schemes.

But the company now says it plans to use IFAs to sell its

“stakeholder-friendly” group personal pension plans to employers. The

company still intends to use its own telephone-based salesforce to push the

products to employees.

In the past, Sir Richard Branson and other company sources have gone on

the record criticising IFAs for earning commission.

But even with this new move, Virgin insists it will not offer commission

and says only IFAs that charge feeswill be welcome.

The company says it sees employees as an untapped market for personal

pensions, especially with compulsion on employers to offer a pension under

stakeholder rules.

Virgin admits the latest move may seem like a U-turn in its attitudes

towards IFAs but says this is only a small step. Because of what it callsa

“conceptual difficulty”, the company doubts it will work much further with

IFAs.

Virgin Direct research development manager Martin Campbell says:

“Underneath the image of Virgin hating everything to do with IFAs, the

reality is we hate everything to do with commission.”

Pensions & Investment Management principal Phil Moore says: “I am not

will-ing to support any companythat on one hand slags me off,saying we are

commission-hungry salesmen and on the other hand wants me to go out and

sell its products.”

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