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Wesleyan tied up in status row

Wesleyan Assurance says it did not intend to mislead British Medical Association members following IFA criticism of the way it describes the status of its multi-tie intermediary arm.

Internal documents seen by Money Marketing show that staff at Wesleyan multi-tie Medical Sickness and BMA Services were told to tell clients that the FSA would not allow it to be called “independent” because it did not charge fees.

It makes no mention of the fact that the intermediary now no longer offers whole of market advice.

MS & BMAS is now a multi-tied agent offering products from a limited range of providers – 28 across its product panels – including the Wesleyan.

The Wesleyan document instructs staff to say: “Since the option to pay by fee will not be available under the new arrangements, the FSA guidelines do not permit us to describe the service as ‘independent’. Instead, the ser- vice will be known as ‘sel-ected range’ advice.”

FSA spokesman Robin Gordon-Walker says: “The only qualifications for those firms calling themselves ‘independent’ is they must offer advice across the whole of the market and allow clients the option to pay by fee.”

Wesleyan chief executive Craig Errington says: “BMAS was tied and MS was an IFA before the merger. We are multi-tied and it was certainly not our intention to mislead anyone.”

Informed Choice managing director Nick Bamford says: “Any IFA that decides to cease being an IFA should be honest enough to tell clients the true reason why they do it, such as for better commission. It is factually incorrect otherwise.”

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