Wells Street Journal: Aviva goes AWOL

There was a time when Aviva spokespeople could be found gracing the pages of the trade and national press, but in recent months sightings of key commentators have become as rare as an interesting ABI press release.

As Budget day and the prospect of a second hand annuity market approached, the firm shut up shop and issued a short blanket statement ahead of the pensions industry’s biggest story.

Hacks at WSJ sister title Money Marketing say this could be down to the company’s new draconian public relations policy, which keeps the likes of pensions policy lead John Lawson under lock and key.

Pre-booked phone calls with Aviva’s bods and wonks are monitored by press officers on mute, silently stifling normally free-flowing conversation.

When asked why their presence was necessary, a member of the press team said calls had to be constantly monitored in case the firm was audited. Bosses at other life companies – none of which come close to matching Aviva’s strict set of rules – will want to take note. Do they realise their lack of press security is putting them at risk from regulators?

Aviva’s acquisition of Friends Life is set to create the UK’s largest life company, but will its influence be stunted by gagged spokespeople?



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