IFAs claim they are resilient to change and ready to accept the challenge of depolarisation

Amanda Jarvis

October 22, 2004

The result was the key finding from a new industry-wide survey to determine the impact of depolarisation on the UK IFA distribution channel, conducted by Focus Solutions.

In January 2002 the FSA announced its plans for depolarisation. The proposed regulation dictates a new distribution structure for the Life and Pensions market and as a result would point towards a large share of the UK’s business being conducted on a multi-tie basis. However, according to the research only 17% of IFAs will adopt a combined independent and multi-tie structure.

With the emergence of multi-tie structures the potential exists for organisations to source comparative quotes via a portal or extranet built specifically for the multi-tie community, placing a question mark over the requirement for an industry IFA portal post depolarisation. However, the research indicates that the future role of the industry IFA portal looks secure, with 87% of IFAs intending to continue their use of the portals for both sourcing comparative quotes and placing electronic business. 72% of IFAs believed that the IFA portals would maintain their current existence and 15% indicated that they would use the IFA portals as a mechanism for creating provider panels.

The future take-up of e-commerce services in the future looks to accelerate within the UK IFA community with 90% of respondents believing that e-commerce will play a more important role within their business in the future.

Nigel Smith, Director of Market Propositions, Focus Solutions commented on the research: “The underlying response that IFAs are ready and waiting to accept the challenge of depolarisation is positive news for the product providers. IFAs are keen to embrace the new technology solutions that providers introduce into the market to manage the new distribution structures. We also expect the majority of tied agents to form multi-tie organisations, so providers need to be developing their new solutions now in readiness for depolarisation to ensure all their distribution channels have time to integrate new services into their business process.”

The sample used for the survey, ‘The impact of depolarisation on the UK IFA distribution channel’ represents a cross section of the IFA community and was conducted by Focus Solutions through a combination of quantitative and qualitative techniques.

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