Aifa is opening its membership to restricted advisers and will rebrand to reflect this change as part of a radical restructure.
Following a strategic review, which began in December when director general Stephen Gay joined Aifa, advisers offering a limited product range will be allowed to join the trade body which has previously only accepted independent whole-of-market advisers. Membership will not be open to single-tied advisers.
Gay says: “We are utterly convinced the way forward has got to be to represent some restricted advisers and to set our membership limits more widely than they currently are. It is right morally, it is right politically and it is right economically.
“I do not think it would be right to expel people from our organisation simply because the regulator has changed the goalposts about what it considers independence to be.”
Aifa will adopt a college structure made up of three subsidiaries – one for IFAs, one for restricted advisers and one for mortgage brokers, under the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries brand.
The three colleges will be responsible for policymaking while the Aifa board, currently known as the Aifa council, will be responsible for governance and running the trade body.
Membership will be opened to restricted advisers over the next 18 months. A decision on rebranding the trade body and any impact on member costs will be agreed by the end of the year. At this year’s PIMS conference, Gay warned of a substantial funding gap within Aifa.
Aifa was set up in 1999 as “the voice of the IFA profession”. When depolarisation was introduced in June 2005, Aifa members voted not to allow multi-tied advisers to join. No vote was held in this instance, although Aifa says the decision follows extensive research with members and non-members.
Yellowtail Financial Planning managing director Dennis Hall says: “Many current IFAs are probably going to operate on a multi-tied basis in the new world. The industry needs a voice that is loud is enough, and if membership is restricted only to independent advisers then it is just not going to have any clout.”
But Syndaxi Chartered Financial Planners managing director Robert Reid says: “Aifa already has a problem in managing its diverse membership. To add to its membership smacks of lunacy.”
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