Speaking at yesterday’s Platform Evolution conference in London, Cummings said the IFA brand was not as strong as it could have been for three reasons – lack of promotional spend, lack of input from industry representatives and lack of communication between trade bodies.
He said: “Whilst it is easy to get agreement in meetings like this, that actually more should be done when you are trying to put the people together who have got money with people who have got the intention to do things, odd stuff gets in the way, which tends to be politics. IFA Promotion won’t talk to Aifa, won’t talk to IFP, won’t talk to PFS, won’t talk to whoever, and all of these things just get ridiculous.”
Cummings also questioned the lack of an IFA response to the Natwest MoneySense adverts. Mystery shopping by Money Marketing and Which? found Natwest advisers to be promoting the bank’s own mortgages rather than giving impartial advice.
He said: “Where was our response to that? Where has the IFA response been?
“It is at this time when financial services is in disarray we need, as a profession, to be standing up and saying we are here to help.”
However, Cummings said Aifa is now trying to generate an advertising promotional campaign in response to the Natwest campaign, but said: “Aifa can do that with politicians and regulators, but we are not in a position to do it from a consumer perspective because it is all about the funding and getting organisations working together.”
Institute of Financial Planning chief executive Nick Cann said a stand-alone adviser campaign is very realistic. But first, he said: “We need more of a handle on the educational piece that makes consumers do more.”
In January this year Money Marketing revealed that Natwest MoneySense advisers promoted the bank’s own mortgages on two out of five occasions when mystery-shopped by Money Marketing despite the bank advertising the service as “impartial” non-sales advice.
IFAP chief executive David Elms says: “I don’t understand any of this and I don’t recognise it at all. Over the years, and I have been with IFAP for 10 years, I can think of numerous occasions when we have been undertaking activity and have shared it with Aifa so that they understand what we are doing. There is total communication.”