“I’m surprised there are so any people so optimistic about the future of life companies,” said Bill Vasilieff, speaking on the International Platform Roundtable at IA’s flagship event that brings together international life companies.
A survey of delegates earlier in the morning revealed that 44% were optimistic about the future of the life industry. In an improvement from last year, where one in five said they were pessimistic, only 15% of delegates held a negative view of the future at this year’s event.
“As far as I am concerned, it’s pretty well finished,” he said, citing what has happened to the UK life sector. “Prudential is really the only life company left in the UK. The rest have changed, they’ve adopted platforms or gone into fund management or got protection. This mis-mash where everything is mixed up inside a life bond is finished.
“A life bond is just a set of tax rules, that’s all that differentiates it, except for the fact you get paid high commission and that is disappearing. I do think there are still circumstances where you should sell a life bond but it’s going to be much more restricted than what’s happening at present.
“The whole thing is going to change,” he said.
Fund Links Forum keynote speaker David Kneeshaw disagreed with Vasilieff’s assessment, telling IA that “there are plenty of life companies that are doing quite well”.
The RL360° chief executive’s speech, prior to the International Platform Roundtable, highlighted challenges and concerns for the industry, predicting that the next three years will be tough and will see market consolidation and departures.
“Advisers need to do the best for their clients. Lots of products contain insurance, which platforms don’t offer. There are huge consumer benefits that you can’t get from platforms.
“There is plenty of business for all these companies and it’s up to the adviser to choose what is best. What I want is for RL360° to be agnostic and offer advisers the best products and the best platforms, whichever they choose is fine by us.”