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Mixed signals over Standard Life’s future IFA strategy

Reports from Scotland suggest that up to a third of the staff employed by Standard Life to support the IFA community are having their jobs reviewed.

The move comes only days after Standard Life won overwhelming backing from members to demutualize. However, initial reports by the Scotsman newspaper that some 53 jobs would be slashed from the 177-strong IFA support team have been criticized by Standard Life.

A spokesman for the insurer told the trade portal IFA Online that these reports were disingenuous and inaccurate. Another report, this time from the Financial Times, suggests rather that Standard Life is to centralize its IFA support operation in a single center in Edinburgh, with 39 of the affected 53 staff offered the chance to relocate there.

The Financial Times quoted the company’s communications manager Peter Timberlake as saying that the remaining 14 would, where possible, be offered other jobs in the group.

This is part of our business evolution. We are moving with the times. It is about recognizing that the advisory market has changed and people do not require quotes from regional offices any more, he said.

Industry experts say that Standard Life enjoys a privileged position in the IFA market and is consistently highly rated by advisors for its quality of service.

If these reports of IFA support staff being axed are true then Standard Life needs to work hard to ensure that its service remains of the highest standard and does not suffer from this restructuring of the IFA support team, says Annabel Gorringe, Datamonitor life, pensions and protection analyst.

This is particularly important during the demutualization period, as uncertainty surrounds the future structure of the company, she adds.