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Who will launch on the multi-tied?

Next week, the FSA publishes multi-tie rules singnalling the end of the polarisation era. How long will it be before multi-tie operations launch and who will be setting them up?

Alison Bone looks at the depolarisation plans for the key industry players.

LIGHTHOUSE

Lighthouse plans to remain a “staunchly IFA operation” but chief executive Malcolm Streatfield says he will be forging closer links with those product providers which get the majority of the firm’s business.

Eighty per cent of Lighthouse’s protection business goes to L&G, Friends Provident, Norwich Union and Scottish Provident and Streatfield says figures are similar for investment and pensions.

He says: “At this stage, while the final rules are not known, rather than rushing in and choosing the wrong providers, we prefer to work more closely with those we do the most business with in certain product areas.” He is not concerned with enhanced commission arrangements as a result of multi-tying, as he says Lighthouse is driven by the concept of best advice rather than commission payments.

BANKHALL

Bankhall has spent around 10m so far on its IT offering, which includes a multi-tie proposition and an IFA portal, but has said it intends to spend significantly in excess of this amount as it develops the offering.

Although the support services provider has been bullish about multi-tie, saying that only itself and Sesame have the scale to build a workable proposition, joint chief executive Simon Taylor says nothing will be ready by December 1 and “no decisions have really been made.”

BARCLAYS

Barclays has merged its three IFAs, Woolwich IFAs, Sedgwick and Barclays Independent Financial Planning salesforces and has said it “sees every likelihood” it will have a multi-tied proposition in the future as well as an IFA arm.

Spokesman Andrew McDougal says: “It is not yet decided exactly how our offering will look but it will be a combination of everything – there will be an IFA, multi-tie, and people selling Sandler products.”

MILLFIELD

Millfield has said that its multi-tie offering will be called Millfield Alliance and it will have five product providers on board.

Money Marketing revealed last week that Inter-Alliance advisers will form the basis of Millfield’s multi-tie.

Millfield finance director Harry Roome says that individuals will be able to choose which route they take but a lot of the business written by advisers in Inter-Alliance is suitable for multi-tie.

Roome says: “We had thought that each adviser would have to be either an IFA or a multi-tie but it now appears an adviser will be able to act sometimes as a multi-tie and sometimes as an IFA. We will need to make sure that there is no client confusion but the good news is that this gives IFAs flexibility.”

TENET

Tenet will be offering a multi-tie option. Sales and marketing director Keith Richards says it is well advanced on how the multi-tie will operate. It will reveal details in the New Year and will offer multi-tie for protection, pensions and investments. Richards says: “Multi-tie may well be the right solution for those advisers who have been tied in the past, whose client bank is more suited to a multi-tie proposition. As there are different client segments, you need to tailor distribution to these segments.”

FALCON

Falcon, with 140 advisers, has no plans to multi-tie. Chief executive Allan Rosengren says: “Because we are entirely client-centric, we will not be multi-tying as we do not believe it is the best interests of our clients.”

Rosengren says that he has not had one member or associate business say they want to consider multi-tying as an option “which only reaffirms our commitment to independence”.

BRADFORD & BINGLEY

Bradford & Bingley’s approach to depolarisation has been nothing if not changeable. Former chief executive Christopher Rodrigues was adamant in February that B&B would offer independent,multi-tied and tied options to consumers but the appointment of Steven Craw-shaw brought with it the sale of B&B’s IFAs, the scrapping of The MarketPlace brand, intended to be its multi-tie arm, and the announcement in November that B&B would tie to Legal & General for investment, pensions and protection.

Spokeswoman Siobhaun Hotten says the tie to L&G will be a multi-tie in a sense as it will offer a wide fund choice.

BEREKELEY BERRY BIRCH

Berkeley Berry Birch is playing a waiting game and finance director Craig Butcher says it has no plans at present to have a multi-tie.

He admits that BBB wants to have stronger commercial arrangements with product providers but does not yet know what form these will take.

He is concerned that the multi-tie deals signed so far centre on product providers guaranteeing distribution and multi-tie firms guaranteeing higher commission levels, which he does not think tallies with the FSA’s desire for greater transparency and product innovation.

Butcher says: “We have had lots of approaches from providers but we have said thanks but no thanks. It would be imprudent to sign a deal now when things could change.”

He expects Berkeley Berry Birch to make a move on multi-tie in the middle of next year.

BURNS ANDERSON

Burns Anderson is creating the structure and format for a multi-tie if it decides that it wants to launch a proposition.

Chief executive Ian Parsons says there are no immediate plans to launch a multi-tie as a survey of the network’s members showed that the overwhelming majority want to retain their independence.

But Burns Anderson is talking to product providers and “putting substantial effort into ensuring that it keeps abreast of “what the market wants”.

Parsons reveals that so far he has spoken to 15 product providers which want to make sure that hey are part of Burns Anderson’s future plans but he wants to see what happens in the marketplace before any decisions are made.

He says: “We have got a lot of background, and are about a month away from saying what our structure might be. But we will not do a multi-tie if our members don’t want one.”

SESAME

Sesame seems to be at the front of the pack for multi-ties, having signed up four providers for its protection multi-tie panel in April – Friends Provident, Norwich Union, Legal & General and Abbey. It appointed Prudential to work on the design and delivery of its multi-tie proposition at thesame time.

Strategy director Charlie Bryant says the full proposition will be unveiled shortly but stresses: “Everyone has to make significant changes to the way that they do business, whether they multi-tie or not. Depolarisation is about a lot more than the opportunity to multi-tie – there is also the new disclosure processes.”

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