The insurer Standard Life has launched its own UK-wide, financial advice business, and will acquire wealth management firm Pearson Jones from Skipton Building Society.
The firm says the changes are a response to what it described as "unprecedented demand" for advice from customers, motivated by developments such as the government's Freedom and Choice in Pensions initiative and the rise of defined contribution arrangements.
Standard Life intends to grow its new advice business through acquisitions of progressive financial advice firms. The agreement to acquire Pearson Jones is expected to be complete in the second quarter of 2015, bringing Standard Life assets under advice of £1.1 billion (€1.5 billion).
Standard Life's new UK-wide service will offer advice face-to-face, on the phone and through digital services, and will be integrated with the firm's existing services. Compliance and support company Threesixty will provide services to the new business.
The firm will continue to support the independent financial advice market through development of platform technology, products and support services, and it expects further growth in this sector, as the demand for advice increases.
Standard Life is also planning the creation of a new academy, which will recruit and train people for a career in financial advice.
Steve Murray, chief executive officer at Standard Life, will lead the new business, building on his experience gained from developing Standard Life's UK advice and distribution strategy.
In September last year, Standard Life formed an agreement with Canadian firm Manulife, to expand its business in Asia, Canada and the US. Standard Life had total assets under administration of over £290 billion, at the end of September 2014.
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