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Will supermarkets take your business?

Last week supermarket Asda announced that it was launching a range of life and mortgage cover products to be available through its stores.

Market leaders Tesco and Sainsbury&#39s already offer insurance and mortgage cover to customers.

With Asda owned by US giant Wal-mart, the scope for cheaper products could be huge and some intermediaries have expressed concern that supermarkets could potentially undercut them by offering better and more competitive deals to customers.

However, the overwhelming majority of those polled say they are unconcerned by the move, with most expecting little or no noticeable impact.

Some even suggest the announcement could help drum up business by bringing down rates and offering improved premiums.

Mortgage Strategy asks 12 leading brokers whether supermarkets&#39 decision to sell mortgage and life insurance products will have an impact on their business.

Drew Folland, principal, Drew Folland Financial Management

“I wouldn&#39t factor it into my business plan. Tesco&#39s life product for example, is just Norwich Union&#39s with a 10% rebate package. As I see it, it&#39s not for the clients that we see coming in for advice. I don&#39t think they&#39re any cheaper than we are as they&#39re still a tied agent.”

Leroy Drummond, director, Drummonds

“Everybody seems to be jumping on the band wagon offering these products. But the market is still going to be a broker one as opposed to a high street one because it&#39s the brokers that do the mortgages.”

Steven East, managing director, Independently East

“The network that we use has done its best to give our clients the best insurance terms but supermarkets still seem to want to undercut us whilst giving no advice on the suitability of the product.”

Mike Fitzgerald, sales director at Brentchase Financial Services “It certainly isn&#39t something we&#39re going to lose any sleep over. I think most people looking for mortgage and life cover would still rather go and talk things over with their broker.”

Jane Harrison, marketing director, London & Country

“It&#39s not something I see impacting on point-of-sale. It&#39s just something we&#39ve seen supermarkets do, expanding into new areas.”

Jim White, director, Jim White&#39s Mortgage Solutions

“The mortgage industry has to accept that supermarkets will become major competitors in our marketplace. Maybe we should explore the possibility of working with them rather than against them.”

Ben Thompson, sales and marketing director, Clear Cut Mortgages “Supermarkets have been offering these products for some time now without any adverse effect on the intermediary sector. I feel customers who seek these products wouldn&#39t necessarily seek advice from intermediaries anyway and probably already buy direct.”

Roy New, sole broker

“Of course it has an effect if it takes someone out of your pool. But on the whole, with the people I sell insurance to, I&#39m already selling a mortgage so on that I&#39m pretty well covered.”

Rob Clifford, managing director, mortgageforce

“Differential pricing could threaten brokers&#39 market share but most consumers prefer to take specialist advice from a mortgage broker proper. This may also cut life insurance costs and generate cheaper premiums.”

Mike Boles, director, Savills Private Finance

“Products such as term assurance are viewed by the supermarkets as simple commoditised products, i.e. bought on price alone. As advisers we add value by discussing benefits such as waiver and using trusts, and we sell products bearing in mind an individual&#39s overall circumstances.”

Bob Singh, director, Smart Mortgage Group

“People still need that advice content and face-to-face contact – the relationship of the advisory process – which is obviously lacking in a telephone sales environment. Still, borrowers who are price sensitive or need something in the middle of the night might use this sort of option.”

Jonathan Cornell, associate director, Hamptons International Mortgages “I don&#39t think it will have that big an impact as I&#39m not sure our customers shop at Asda. I think it&#39s a good thing though, making insurance accessible to a wider range of people. Whether punters are getting the right advice is another matter.”

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