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Zurich: Retail platform is not for sale

Zurich has pledged its commitment to the retail investment market following the announcement it is selling its workplace pensions business to Lloyds Banking Group.

Lloyds and Zurich announced the deal today, saying it is expected to partially complete in the first quarter of next year.

A number of market sources told Money Marketing over summer that Lloyds-owned Scottish Widows was eyeing Zurich’s platform. At the time, both companies said they did not comment on market rumour and speculation.

Speaking to Money Marketing after today’s announcement Zurich retail platform strategy head Alistair Wilson says the business is fully committed to the retail market and a retail platform.

Wilson says: “We have no intention of changing our strategy we have always had for our retail platform and we continue to establish our market-leading proposition in the retail wealth space. We are still fully committed to the adviser market, that hasn’t changed and has always been our position.”

Tweeting about the Lloyds and Zurich deal, Finalytiq director Abraham Okusanya questioned why Lloyds did not buy the adviser platform along with the workplace book.

He says: “Zurich’s key selling point used to be this idea of seamless transition from its workplace platform to the adviser platform. Now that’s gone. Zurich’s workplace [and] adviser platforms sat on same tech (FNZ), allowing operational/distribution cost to be shared between the two.”

Okusanya adds: “The workplace had c£17bn AUA vs adviser side c£8bn. Now that workplace side is gone, the standalone adviser side becomes even less viable. Question is, why didn’t Lloyds buy adviser platform? Was it because Zurich wasn’t keen on selling or Lloyds wasn’t keen on buying?”

In today’s announcement, Zurich said it is enhancing the range of products on its retail platform.

Wilson says a junior Isa will be added from early 2018 and a new offshore bond will be available later this year.

Zurich is also making changes to how advisers will use the platform, including changing some of the “screens” advisers will see.

Zurich is also building a retail protection platform that will run alongside the retail investment platform.

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