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Aifa presses for hard push towards professionalism

Speaking at the FSA retail intermediaries sector confer-ence in Solihull last week, Aifa director of policy Fay Goddard said any professional certification would be hard-earned and not necessarily for everyone but would raise an IFA to the status of an accountant or lawyer.

She said advisers would need a degree-level qualification before they could be seriously considered on a par with other professions. She said around one-third of IFAs are already at that level.

Personal Finance Society chief executive Mark Omm-anney said promoting professionalism is essential for the future success of the independent sector. He compared raising standards with the job of Metropolitan Police Comm-issioner Sir John Stevens,who admitted inheriting an untrusted workforce but turned it around by focusing on professionalism.

True Financial Planning director John Baxter said professionalism required restructuring IFAs’ business models, with advisers spending more time advising. He said up to 75 per cent of admin tasks done by advisers should be reallocated if they want to be seen in a professional light.

Goddard said: “A better service needs to be offered to improve image and reputation. Increased professionalism could justify raising fees. It will be good for the business and the client.”

Ommanney says: “This is about a client’s interests coming first. Professionalism has to be earned.”

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