In an interview with International Adviser on the day the Bahamas announcement was made, Hansard chief executive Gordon Marr acknowledged that the launch of Hansard Worldwide Ltd (HWL) was partly because of the conduct of business code.
“If you just sat on the Isle of Man your position would decline over time, we will continue to operate there within the constraints of what we do,” he said.
As the dust has settled, however, some within the industry are expressing their frustrations with the move.
Not one to mince his words, RL360 chief executive David Kneeshaw told IA: “Hansard and the Bahamas; they deserve each other.”
While Old Mutual International managing director Peter Kenny admits to being disappointed with Hansard’s decision.
“The conduct of business code is about industry best practice and making sure the end customer is fully aware of what they are paying for. The Isle of Man is working to drive positive change in the market and for one company to break rank is disappointing,” he said to International Adviser.
Other industry figures, who declined to be quoted, expressed similar views.
So far, the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority has been quiet about the move. A request for comment went unanswered.
A statement from the island’s Department for Enterprise didn’t respond to IA’s questions regarding the launch of HWL and how it reflected on the code.
However, it reiterated that the Department “is fully supportive of the conduct of business rule changes to be adopted on 1 January 2019, which is a further example of the island adopting international best practice”.
Strategic growth plans
In response to the criticism, Marr told IA: “As a FTSE-listed company, you will appreciate that we are restricted in the extent to which we could disclose any information regarding the launch of HWL.
“The attainment of a licence for HWL in the Bahamas is the delivery of one element of our strategic growth plans which we have been working on for some time.
“HWL allows us to get closer and offer a more localised service to our customers in the Latin American region in particular, which is a high growth region for us. The reaction we have had around the world, meeting with our key distributors over the last three weeks has been very encouraging and we are excited about developing HWL to its full potential.
Conduct of business
The code was first announced in July 2016 and included a two-stage implementation of key information documents (Kid).
Phase one was originally intended to come into force in January 2018 and involved a generic document outlining the maximum fees and commissions a client would pay.
However, this was later scrapped.
Phase two, which will come into force on 1 January 2019, mandates that insurers have to issue policyholder-specific Kids at the point of sale disclosing the precise fees and commissions the client will pay.
Life insurers based on the island that deal primarily with UK-based clients will not be impacted as they are already subject to the retail distribution review.