Friends Provident, he UK life and pensions office, says it will dispense with its in-house sales force. The change is prompted by “de-polarisation,” a proposed regulatory change that will end the divide between independent financial advisors (who sell anyone’s financial products) and tied agents (who sole the products of a single firm). UK regulators have argued that “polarisation” restricts competition and innovation.
Friends Provident intends to concentrate the distribution of its pension and life insurance products through independent financial advisers or partnerships with other companies. The group said it would offer half of the 380 people currently employed in the direct sales unit the opportunity to work as self-employed representatives of the company.
Several British life and pensions providers have axed direct sales forces. The Prudential shed 1,400 in 2001.