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‘We are open for business’: Sesame hits back at market rumours

Sesame Bankhall Group has declared itself “open for business” after recent speculation it could be sold or wound down by Friends Life.

In an email sent to members this morning, seen by Money Marketing, SBG executive chairman John Cowan refused to comment on market speculation.

But he said he was writing to “re-iterate” what Sesame Bankhall stands for and how it will play a leading role in the market.

Cowan told members SBG is a broad-based network with appointed representatives at Sesame and directly authorised advisers at PMS and Bankhall.

He said there were 750 applications to join Sesame last year leading to more than 500 authorisations.  He went on to say there is a “healthy pipeline” of new firms as it continues to recruit into the network.

Although Sesame is forcing all ARs to become restricted it says it will help the transition to directly authorised if advisers want to stay independent.

Cowan writes: “Restricted advice or independent advice? Network or directly authorised? The fact is we are agnostic. We have the ability to offer choice and flexibility, when many others do not.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, Sesame is very much open for business and we continue to seek out quality advisers to come and join us. For those who choose to be directly authorised, you are most welcome and we will do all that we can to assist you.

“We do not intend to spend any time responding to market rumours. Our focus is on helping you, our members, run successful businesses. Already, 2014 looks to be an extraordinarily vibrant year.”

SBG has had a tumultuous few months after announcing it was ditching its IFA status last year and the departure of chief executive George Higginson in January as part of a management shake-up.

Friends Life has been trying to sell the SBG business for over a year, with mortgage giants Countrywide and LSL Property Services thought to have signalled an interest.

Last June the firm was fined £6m by the FCA for systems and controls failings in investment advice as its network arm reported a £9.3m loss for 2012.

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