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Woolwich retraining hundreds of tied advisers to become IFAs

The Woolwich is retraining hundreds of its tied advisers as IFAs in a move which will create one of the biggest independent salesforces in the UK.

As part of a restructuring process to bring all regulated sales under its existing IFA service Wifas, Woolwich is retraining a large proportion of its nearly 800-strong direct salesforce as IFAs to enable them to sell a wider range of investment and life products.

The move will more than double to 480 the number of IFAs providing face-to-face advice in the bank&#39s branches. With the 130 IFAs of its subsidiary Sedgwick taken into account, Woolwich is now estimated to have one of the top five independent salesforces in the UK.

The scale of the move has raised speculation that the bank is set to follow in Bradford & Bingley&#39s footsteps and convert its branches into independent advice centres.

But Woolwich says it has no plans to do so, pointing to the 500 remaining tied advisers who will concentrate on selling the bank&#39s unregulated Open Plan products including mortgages, savings and term insurance.

Woolwich director (IFA operations) Dawn Johnson says: “Our decision means a simple, straightforward proposition for our customers and enables the Woolwich to strengthen its offering of independent financial advice.”

Savills Private Finance associate Simon Jones says: “It would certainly seem that Woolwich is dipping more than just a toe in Bradford & Bingley territory.”

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