Banks will take over from IFAs as the major point of sale for with-profits investments in the future, according to Aviva.
The insurer, which is one of the largest with-profits providers in the UK, believes the RDR will reduce the role of advisers in the with-profits market.
However, concerns have been raised over the risks of selling the policies on an unadvised basis, especially as investors will miss regular product reviews.
Aviva's head of investment marketing, Richard Kelsall, says he expects with-profits policies will increasingly be sold through so-called ‘affinity partners' including banks, building societies and tied agents, rather than IFAs.
"With-profits is largely designed for people in the mid-market - those that want a bit more risk than is available with cash, but don't feel comfortable with more complex funds," he says.
"This is a section of the market IFAs will be moving away from in the run-up to 2012, and banks and building societies will be better placed to distribute this kind of investment."
However, there are concerns consumers might buy into with-profits policies without fully understanding them.
Miles Hendy, chartered financial planner at Fraser Heath and a with-profits expert, says the nature of with-profits funds has led to a great deal of disillusionment among the IFA community.
"It is the complex nature of the investment vehicle, and the unintended negative consequences that can result from this complexity, that has led to its great mistrust amongst financial advisers and media commentators," says Hendy.
"It has led to so much disappointment because it has not behaved like policyholders reasonably expected it to behave."
He believes the policies are simply too complex to sell directly to consumers and fears many might invest without understanding the nature of with-profits. They would also have no IFA to fall back on for ongoing advice.
He adds: "If Aviva cannot convince qualified financial advisers of [with-profits'] merits, is it really appropriate to market it heavily directly to consumers?"
With-profits funds have improved their performance in 2009, but continue to receive heavy criticism for failing to capitalise on huge stock-market gains through the latter half of last year.
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