Sesame confirms second non-panel ‘restricted’ option

Sesame Bankhall Group has confirmed market speculation that the Sesame network will be removing the option for authorised representatives to be indepedent and revealed that plans are under way to launch a second restricted proposition alongside its existing panel-based option.

Chief executive George Higginson said in a note to members that Sesame is considering a new proposition designed to meet the pre-RDR independent definition for investment and pensions, which required advisers to be free of any provider ties but did not require them to review every option available in the market.

This, he said, would stand “alongside” its current proposition for restricted advisers, which offers advisers the choice only of providers that the network has included on a range of panels covering different product areas.

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He said work was still ongoing and that further details would be unveiled at the network’s annual conference in January.

He said the network would continue to support full independent advisers operating in the mortgages and protection sectors, which are outside of the scope of the RDR - and added that Bankhall would continue to support independent directly authorised advisers.

Recent speculation has indicated that a break-up of Sesame Bankhall could be on the cards after property services firms Countrywide and LSL stated they were in discussions to buy parts of the Sesame network.

Standard Life-owned Threesixty Services has expressed interest in buying SBG’s adviser support arm Bankhall, while SimplyBiz managing director Matt Timmins claimed his firm had “the capacity to restore Bankhall to its glory years”.

Mr Higginson, who emphasised that a final decision on the proposition has not been made, said the new model was being developed to reflect the feedback it has received from advisers, who told Sesame they were looking for a whole of market proposition “based on what they used to have pre-RDR”.

He also cited the Financial Conduct Authority’s ongoing RDR thematic review as the reason for Sesame reconsidering its investment and pensions proposition.

He said: “This is affecting our whole profession and it is something that we need to face up to. The FCA’s direction of travel is clear – a tougher and more intrusive regulatory approach.”

On the dual nature of the model, Mr Higginson said: “Just to be clear, you would have the ability to operate within one of these propositions or a combination.

“This may depend on the size of your firm, but we already support firms within the group that successfully operate a hybrid business model spanning network and directly authorised permissions, encompassing independent and non-independent advisers.

“Importantly, this is still work in progress and once we have confirmed final details in January, you will still have six months from conference in order to consult with our team, make your decision and plan for the future that is right for your business.”

Mr Higginson added: “We are clearly disappointed that initial headlines on this were leaked in advance and I wanted to be open with you well ahead of our conference in January. This was always our intention, so that we can talk to you about our plans and gather your feedback during this development phase and ahead of any formal announcement.