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A wanderer returns

A wanderer returns

The Edinburgh-headquartered global savings and investment business Standard Life is back and aims to restore its long-standing roots in the advisory market through the launch of its Generation Advice programme, which is free for planners to use.

“We are committed to supporting advisers” is the catchline behind the initiative, designed to equip advisers with the tools to provide a top quality service amid a surge in demand for financial advice, which is attributable to the new pension freedoms.

David Tiller, head of adviser propositions and strategy at Standard Life, said: “If we fail to address the advice capacity gap, many people who need and want advice will not be able to access it. We have a collective responsibility to try our best not to let down these people through a failure to modernise our thinking.

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“RDR and pensions freedoms have created a new market environment. This means a new way of working while investing in the things that can help advisers reshape their businesses to be able to meet the demand.”

Notable features of the programme include the systemisation of advice processes deemed complex by the firm, such as asset migration, back office integration, tax optimisation of client income withdrawals, capital gains tax modelling and strategy execution.

It also includes adviser-led investment insourcing, which the firm said gives planners access to investment specialists without the loss of control experienced with traditional investment outsourcing, and a ‘back book’ client safety net – providing an ongoing non-advised service to clients where full advice is not economically viable.

Standard Life said it will also support advisers by providing insights into UK and global best practice with technical support, regular adviser events and webinars.

Mike Hogg, head of platform strategy at Standard Life, said the company is due to bring out a tax optimisation tool designed to help advisers draw assets out of wrappers tax-efficiently.

Claire Burston, a spokesman for the firm, said the tool covers multiple products, not just pensions, and is earmarked to be released this month. It will be made available through its wrap platform and through the Adviserzone website. The key feature of the programme will also be made available through the two mediums.

Martin Bamford, managing director of Surrey-based Informed Choice, said: “There is no such thing as a free lunch. The intermediary market is important to providers, so Standard Life is most likely trying to attract new business. Essentially, it is a marketing ploy aimed at building a closer relationship with advisers.”

He added: “I have no doubt this support will be valued by advisers, but in a post-RDR world, advisers will have to question the relationship they are entering into.”

The group is no stranger to the adviser market. The industry gasped in astonishment as the life office announced its return to the adviser market in February this year with the purchase of Skipton Building Society’s advisory arm Pearson Jones.

Standard Life launched its restricted financial advisory business called 1825 – in reference to the year Standard Life was founded – following the acquisition.