Sun Life looks to fill advice gap with direct-only offering

The director of Sun Life, which has relaunched into the UK market with a range of direct-only products, said the insurer was looking to reach younger, more financially stretched investors left high and dry by the widening advice gap.

Mr Lamble said the company was not going to compete with IFAs, but would “fill a gap in the provision of financial services that could no longer be filled by financial advisers”. He added it would complement rather than compete with advisers.

Mr Lamble said there was a need for financial products that were affordable as well as simple, and Sun Life aimed to “democratise financial services”.

He said: “With the removal of compulsory annuitisation, the launch of auto-enrolment and a reduction in the availability of advice since the retail distribution review, many customers had been left underserved by the financial services industry.”

He said the more research Sun Life did, the more obvious it became that everyday consumers in the UK were disengaged when it came to buying or talking about financial products.

Mr Lamble added: “Our research reveals that the biggest challenges are around price and engagement. In fact, sometimes it is simply the perceived price rather than the actual cost that puts people off.

“We now have a brand that reflects our values of being straightforward, affordable and accessible in a more meaningful way for consumers.”

The company, owned by Axa, has spent £250m relaunching its 200-year-old brand, and will white-label existing best-of-market products.

Key products

A regular stocks and shares Isa with a minimum regular premium of £20 a month.

Critical illness cover from £10 a month.

Term life insurance.

Refreshed over-50s funeral plan.

Wills and other later-life offerings.

Adviser view

Bob Riach, founder of Scunthorpe-based Riach Financial Advisers, said: “Sun Life already sells direct to the public with over-50 plans, and is already competing with us. As a financial adviser, we would have to see if it has competitive premiums, and if it does, we might use it but have to charge a service fee.”