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West Brom pledges to continue offering advice

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West Bromwich Building Society has committed to continue offering its customers investment advice despite the withdrawal of its bancassurance partner Axa.

Axa decided to close its bancassurance arm last month, resulting in 450 job losses. The company said at the time it would have had to charge a 6 per cent advice fee in order to deliver advice profitably.

Axa’s bancassurance partners Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks scrapped branch-based advice in the wake of Axa decision.

The Co-operative Bank, another Axa partner, has suspended its advice service until at least the end of the year while it reviews its options.

West Brom also partnered with Axa for investment advice but delivered this through its own in-house advisers.

The building society, which employs 19 financial planner managers within its branch network, said at the time of the Axa closure it was reviewing its options.

It has now decided to continue offering advice but has not chosen its new bancassurance partner.

A spokesman says: “The West Brom has already made a significant commitment by becoming RDR-compliant and maintaining a face-to-face financial services advice provision through our branch network.

“Our current intention is to continue offering this service, but clearly we need to find the right partner and range of products in order to deliver it. We are assessing our options and will keep customers and colleagues informed of our progress.

“In the meantime, Axa will continue to support our position as an appointed representative until a final cut-off point is agreed.”

Chelsea Financial Services managing director Darius McDermott says: “Bancassurance has generally been poor and focused on sales but if West Brom has whole of market products and its advisers are good then it is to be welcomed.”

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