Zurich remains ‘committed’ to IFAs amid platform sale reports

Zurich insists it remains “fully committed” to supporting financial advisers amid reports the company is looking to sell its IFA platform with a price tag of more than £50m.

The company says it regularly works with third parties to review the makeup of its business to ensure it “fits” with its strategy and individual parts are “best structured” to serve customers and distribution partners.

A spokesperson for the Swiss insurance firm says: “We do not comment on the specifics of these reviews or speculation around them. We remain fully committed to supporting financial advisers and their clients.”

Zurich is thought to be working with HSBC to find a buyer for Zurich Intermediary, according to reports in the Sunday Times.

The article cites Aegon as a potential buyer, after it acquired the Cofunds platform in 2016. An Aegon spokesperson says: “We do not comment on market speculation.”

Aegon claims Cofunds integration will save £60m a year

An industry commentator, who wished to remain anonymous, tells Money Marketing they would not be surprised by Zurich selling its IFA platform and would be “more surprised if it wasn’t for sale”.

The source says: “There was much speculation that the investment platform would have been included in the sale of the workplace/master trust business to Scottish Widows. This did not happen, but Zurich as a business are very focused around general insurance and especially protection where they have made significant advances in the last 12 months. Savings doesn’t really sit comfortably in their portfolio, so transferring the platform to a better home would make sense.

“I could see them looking for a similar reciprocal arrangement on protection to the one agreed with the workplace sale where Scottish Widows now market the Zurich group protection products to their workplace savings customers.”

Zurich: Retail platform is not for sale

On its website Zurich highlights that platforms need to be “versatile, dependable and easy to use”.

It says: “The Zurich Intermediary platform delivers on all three of these, giving you more time to spend working towards great client outcomes.”

One of the newer platforms on the market, Zurich launched its Intermediary platform in 2013. It provides access to more than 3,600 funds, 35 DFMs and UK-listed securities such as ETFs, investment trusts, equities, gilts and bonds.

As of October 2018, Zurich’s UK Life business, of which the Zurich Intermediary Platform is a part, had more than £35bn of assets under management.

Zurich partners with FNZ for the technology behind its platform, while it uses Vermeg for its “shop window”.

Zurich head of retail platform strategy Alistair Wilson previously told Money Marketing: “We’ve generally not seen a great deal of consolidation in the platform market.”

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