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Zurich chief warns against providers investing in IFAs

Zurich IFA is warning rival providers against investing directly into IFA businesses, saying that giving IFAs more support services will be more productive.

The company wants to see more gap-filling opportunities arise from the polarisation review. It says allowing a pro-vider to white-label gap-filled products under its own-name products would solve customer confusion. Zifa, which is now under the leadership of new managing director Jim Reeve following the retirement of Jerry Grayburn earlier this year, says both parties should consider very carefully the consequences of becoming linked through equity stakes.

While the likes of Norwich Union, Aegon and Clerical Medical think IFAs need urgent capital support, Reeve believes provider ownership of IFAs could lead to serious breaches of their independence.

He thinks investing in support services for IFAs such as training and competence, technology and compliance will help IFAs survive and flourish whatever the outcome of the polarisation review.

Reeve says: “I believe a more meaningful and appropriate way to help IFAs is to focus on their own bottom line, leaving them to run their own businesses. The industry should be very cautious of the threat that providers investing in IFAs could bring as consumers would not perceive IFAs as independent from product providers.”

Interview, p13


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