3:08pm Monday 15th April 2013
© Press Association 2013
Insurer Axa is cutting 450 jobs in branches of The Co-operative Bank and Yorkshire and Clydesdale banks under plans to cease face-to-face financial advice.
The group blamed the decision on the "new regulatory environment", which last year banned commission payments for financial advice, instead forcing customers to pay up front.
Axa has started consulting affected staff, who are based in bank branches across the UK but employed by the insurance giant. Other firms including HSBC have also cut back on financial advice or restricted it to wealthy customers.
Axa UK chief executive Paul Evans said: "We are very disappointed that Axa UK must also now withdraw this service having not found a model which balanced the regulatory requirement that the service be profitable in its own right, whilst setting advice fees at an affordable level."
Axa has sold life insurance and savings products through bank branches - a process called bancassurance - for the past nine years. Customers will now have to rely on call centres for financial advice.
The Government's shake-up of financial advice - called the Retail Distribution Review - last October banned free financial advice in a bid to stop firms selling unsuitable products.
Instead, financial advisers must clearly explain to the customer up front how much advice will cost and agree how the customer will pay for it.
A spokeswoman for Yorkshire and Clydesdale banks said: "This decision does not impact on any of the advice our customers have received nor on any policies they hold. We will continue to focus our support for Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank customers across our core retail and business banking strengths."
A Co-operative spokeswoman said: "The financial planning service has been provided by Axa for a number of years and following their decision to withdraw from this market we will now be considering alternative options."
More than 130 of the affected staff are based in Yorkshire and Clydesdale branches, about 150 are in Co-operative branches and the remainder work in support roles. Axa, France's biggest insurer, employs 160,000 staff around the globe.
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