Virgin ads anger financial advisers

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The Independent Online
A row has broken out between Virgin Direct, the financial services firm owned by cola-to-airline tycoon Richard Branson, and independent financial advisers, who claim they are being unfairly vilified in Virgin's advertisements.

IFA Promotion, a body which promotes the use of independent advisers, has written to the Advertising Standards Authority, complaining that Virgin's ads breach the ASA code of practice. In particular, IFA Promotion objects to Virgin's claims that it gives "value for money" because it has nothing to do with salesmen or commissions.

Robert Browne-Clayton, the IFA body's chief executive, said: "We are unhappy about a number of claims made in Virgin Direct's advertising. However, the crux of our argument is that people who are considering life insurance need advice."

Martin Campbell, product development manager at Virgin Direct, said: "It is ironic that we should be attacked by IFA Promotion when we give its number to hundreds of customers who need advice about a product in an area we do not cover.

"Its attack on us is out of date. We have moved away from the argument about commissions and on to more positive arguments about our products. The point we have been trying to make is that if the insurance industry did its job properly millions of people would be better protected than they are today."

The ASA was unavailable for comment.