The purpose of this paper is to consider the size and structure of the retailers of financial services and the impact of the Financial Services Act (FSA) upon the availability of independent financial advice. As is widely known retailers of life assurance, investments and pensions have been required under the FSA to make decisions in relation to polarisation ‐ either to act as “independents” retailing the products of a range of manufacturers or to become “tied” to a single manufacturer. As a result of the polarisation decisions important changes have occurred, particularly in relation to accessibility to independent advice for the wider public.
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