Zurich Financial Services is moving to completely remodel and rebrand the Zurich Advice Network to become a directly authorised multi-tie distribution business.
Speaking to Money Marketing last week, global chief executive of the life business Paul van de Geijn, who took on the role five months ago, says the UK life business will be split into two parts – manufacturing and distribution.
ZAN, which encompasses the former Allied Dunbar salesforce and is one of the UK's biggest tied agency networks, will be overhauled with a view to it becoming a directly authorised, multi-tie distribution business, operating autonomously of the bigger group.
The manufacturing side will focus on only the most profitable and effective product lines within Zurich, with van de Geijn saying it will seek out exclusive arrangements with other providers for best-of-breed products in a bid to give advisers more product lines to offer.
He says the new-look ZAN will be up and running by the end of the year.
ZAN has 3,800 advisers operating on a franchise basis who will become “partners” in the new business, with options for providing this partnership, including a public listing, giving advisers ownership stakes or a joint venture with them. It says it currently has no plans to merge Eagle Star and Allied Dunbar but it is one of the options being considered.
Van de Geijn says: “It responds to any perceived lack of clarity and commitment to the UK life market. The IFA world is moving to multi-tie ground and this is our answer to what we think depolarisation will cause.”
Direct Life and pensions sales and marketing manager Richard Verdin says: “Finally there is an acceptance from one of the biggest tied agent insurers that customers really want choice.”