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Project Jupiter: CFS Cease to Provide Life Assurance

CFS Joint Trades Union Communication

 

USDAW    NACO    Unite the Union

Life and Savings Review - 15th July 2011

 
On 29th June 2011, the Unite, NACO and USDAW attended a formal meeting with CFS regarding the outcome of the Life & Savings Review.  Specifically we met with Mark Summerfield (Business Leader, Life & Savings), Helen Taylor (Business Leader, HR), Andrew Shepherd (Employee Relations Manager, HR), and the HR Business Partners from the potentially impacted areas.  This was the first formal consultation meeting about the outcome of the Life and Savings Review, otherwise known as Project Jupiter.
 
The Life and Savings Review has been ongoing for approximately 20 months, and during that time the Joint Trades Unions (JTU) have met with the business regularly to be updated on the progress that was being made by the review team, and any associated findings.  During this time the joint unions consistently stated their position that the only acceptable outcome was for the Life and Savings business to remain within CFS, and receive substantial investment in order to increase its viability and to uphold our values and ethics as a co-operative business.  To that end, several formal papers were submitted to both the CFS and the Co-operative Group Boards to robustly express our position and state our supporting arguments.  At the 22nd June 2011 Board meeting, Mark Summerfield formally outlined the potential outcomes for the Board to make a decision. 
 
The Joint Trades Unions are extremely disappointed that the CFS Board have unanimously decided that CFS should cease to be a provider of life assurance products, and that an in-house solution was not the preferred option.  We believe that this fundamentally changes the focus of CFS as a business, and will have very serious effects on those staff who work in Life and Savings.  CFS have described in depth the economic and long term commercial reasons which have fed into this decision, as well as giving detail of the increasingly heavy handed regulation of financial services by the FSA that make our existing business model exceptionally difficult to operate.  Many other life companies have closed or sold on their business due to the increasing difficulties of operating in the Life and Savings arena, and the vast majority have already closed down their direct sales force.  However, this is precisely why we felt so strongly that CFS should retain and invest in this area of the business and preserve the co-operative difference.
 
The withdrawal of CFS from the Life and Savings market obviously has huge implications for the staff involved, and we are now in formal consultation with CFS regarding the impact of this decision.  There are several separate groups affected by this change, and we detail the proposed outcome for each below.
 
Field Sales and Field Sales Support Staff

It is proposed that the Field Sales channel will close, and that CFS will no longer directly sell life products.  We are currently in formal consultation with CFS and will be carefully examining their business case, listening to members views and making any necessary representations to management. 
 
Given that the L&S Review has been ongoing for such a long period, we have been able to prepare for all possible contingencies.  To that end we have conferred with CFS regarding possible severance terms for field sales financial advisers and their managers, together with a support package.  These proposed terms are significantly better that the statutory requirement, and we believe that the support package will provide important help to all of our members in finding further employment and completing their RDR training if required.    
 
The roles of most field sales support staff will disappear with the closure of the field sales channel.  There will be the option of entering the CFS redeployment process where there are suitable roles, but redundancy may well be the ultimate outcome.       
 
Bancassurance

It is proposed that the Bancassurance function will transfer to AXA.  We will be commencing discussions with CFS concerning this transfer, and will keep you informed as discussions progress.  We will of course ensure that if this transfer goes ahead, it adheres to the TUPE regulations and the protection it gives to employees.  Whilst this is not the outcome we wanted, it should be noted that your employment is potentially secure, albeit sadly not with CFS
 
Life & Savings and TCAM, et al.   
Discussions are ongoing between CFS and Royal London with a view to the Life and Savings and TCAM business being transferred to Royal London.  Whilst our preferred result was always an in house solution, we do take a small measure of comfort from the fact that Royal London is a fellow mutual organisation.
 
Should agreement be reached, it looks very likely that a significant number of staff will be transferred via a TUPE.  The numbers that transfer will depend on the outcome of the ongoing discussions between CFS and Royal London.  As with the Bancassurance area, we will work to ensure that this transfer adheres to the TUPE regulations and the protection it gives to employees.  Those staff that do not transfer may be able to enter the CFS redeployment process, but may ultimately be made redundant.
 
Conclusion
The purpose of consultation is to provide as early an opportunity as practicable for all concerned to share the issues and explore the options, and is undertaken by all parties with a view to reaching agreement.  Consultation is not usually a quick process, so we may not have answers to your questions immediately. 
 
In the case of staff who are being TUPE transferred to either AXA or Royal London, we are committed to protecting members terms and conditions as far as possible, and achieving the best outcome possible for all concerned in the circumstances.
 
In the case of field sales staff whose roles are proposed to be made redundant, we are committed to ensuring that you are treated properly and fairly during the process.  For those members whose earnings are calculated dependant on sales, we have developed some contingency plans with the business as to how your earnings will be protected during the process of closure.  For salaried staff, it is envisaged that the existing merger severance terms will continue to apply as they have done in previous exercises.  For all staff that leaving the business as a result of the Life and Savings Review, a future career support package will be available.  
 
Whilst we will make use of our websites and notice boards to keep you informed, it is impossible to hold regular and constructive meetings with all those affected, just because of the numbers and geographical spread involved.  Each union will communicate to its own members as and when appropriate.
 
We know that this is a difficult time for members, and that there will be a great deal of upset and uncertainty around.  Such exercises are never easy, and we will be very active on your behalf.  In return your unions ask you to bear in mind that they are already extremely busy, so would ask for your support and patience. 
 
It is still possible for individuals in scope of the potential transfer to join Unite or NACO, and we strongly urge non-members to complete an application as soon as possible.
 

 

Neil Buist Nancy Greene John Gorle
General Secretary, NACO Regional Officer, Unite National Officer, Usdaw