Aviva accused of poaching adviser clients

Aviva accused of poaching adviser clients

Aviva has been accused of trying to poach an adviser’s clients after it sent an email asking if they wanted to move their pensions onto its platform.

Gary Friel, an adviser at Kent Insurance Services, told Financial Adviser Aviva emailed several of his clients asking them whether they wanted to move their old off-platform pensions onto the platform.

The email, which carried the subject line “Your pension has reached a new milestone”, then offered the clients the chance to use the platform to switch investments, or access Aviva’s own retirement products.

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He also said the products remained “fit for purpose” for most clients and there was no need to move them.

Mr Friel said: “The obvious aim is for direct engagement with their pension ‘sales’ team.

“The plans are insured contracts, which I believe Aviva want moved to their platform offering.

“In my view, this forms part of their corporate strategy to move as much from insured to platform and then package the remainder off to another provider under the classic zombie offload.”

But Aviva denied any attempts of client poaching.

A representative said: “The email issued was entirely designed to keep customers in older products engaged with their pension and continuing to invest for their future. 

“In line with our policy, there was no suggestion that they seek advice from an alternative source.

“We recognise that some customers in these products are in an active ongoing advice relationship, but our data and research highlights that a great many are not. 

“For this reason we believe that regular communication is critical to helping them achieve the best possible outcome.”

The letters were sent to clients as their pensions reached a particular milestone, such as the sum of £200,000.

Mike Barrett, consultant at The Lang Cat, said: “There is no more sure fire a way to annoy an adviser than to be seen to be trying to poach his clients. 

“I think quite often with these things, the platform is being clumsy with the wording it uses, rather than deliberately trying to take the client.

“In the specific case of Aviva, it’s also worth noting that they do have a duty of care to the client to tell them about milestone events with their pension.”