1,000 jobs to go as Pearl axes direct salesforce

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The Independent Online

Pearl, the life insurer owned by AMP of Australia, is to axe its 1,000-strong salesforce tomorrow in a major restructuring of the parent company's UK interests.

Pearl had argued its army of door-to-door salesmen marked it out from rivals, who have almost all abandoned direct selling in recent years.

But yesterday the company said the Pearl salesforce could not continue in its present form. An AMP spokesman refused to comment on any possible redundancies or on the details of any restructuring.

Pearl had to be propped up with an emergency £500m cash injection from AMP earlier this year. The falling stock markets had left its life fund in danger of breaching its solvency requirements.

AMP's chief executive, Paul Batchelor, was ousted after bungling the disclosure of Pearl's precarious financial position, and his successor, Andrew Mohl, has said AMP should not have expanded in the UK as aggressively as it has done in the past few years.

Using cash thrown off by the Pearl business, which it bought in 1989, AMP has also acquired and expanded fund managers Henderson and NPI and financial advisers Towry Law and iii and employs 7,000 people in the UK.

Mr Mohl has put all AMP's UK businesses under review and will unveil the new structure of the divisions to Australian shareholders on Wednesday in a briefing which also covers the Australian and other international operations of the group. The UK employees will learn their fate in briefings on Tuesday.

The sacking of the direct salesforce – 700 financial advisers and 300 mortgage specialists – comes on top of a promise in June to axe 800 UK jobs by the end of the year, and a further 700 next year. Most of these cuts, which were intended to save £100m a year, had been expected to fall among back office workers such as IT, sales support and consumer services staff.