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Aifa slams IFA Promotion

Aifa director general Chris Cummings has hit out at IFA Promotion over the way it communicates with other trade bodies and the lack of an IFA response to the Natwest advice adverts.

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.”


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Comments

There are 3 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Trade Bodies in alignment
    I wholeheartedly agree with Chris Cummings urgings for trade bodies to work more closely together. Some time back I sugested that AIFA and the IFADU operate more closely and this idea was knocked back. Whilst such a response is likely to arouse congratulatory whoops from Nic Cicutti it oes mean that the IFA word is more fragmented than it need be.

  2. Mark Warner of AFM, Taunton. 4th June 2009 at 2:04 pm

    AIFA slams IFA Promotion
    IFA Promotions in my opinion have lost the plot over the last couple of years. It is not surprising that they do not talk to AIFA, as they do not talk to IFA’s – unless they want money!!. The lack of discussion with IFA’s I am thinking of, relates to the closing down of the consumer helpline. Yes we have the internet, but an 83 year old widow who wants to speak to someone regarding say Equity Release & Investment’s, may well prefer the old fashioned use of a telephone & in all probability does not have or want a computer.

  3. David Elms Chief Executive IFAP / Unbiased.co.uk 4th June 2009 at 4:41 pm

    A few thoughts
    IFAP / Unbiased.co.uk’s budget has been level for the last few years. Only those 4,000 IFA firms that are subscribing to our Online Marketing Package (OMP) are contributing towards funding our consumer campaign. Our prime objective remains to promote the value and benefits of independent financial advice to consumers, consumer media, third party referrers and other influencers.

    Last year, independent evaluation agency Panarc, measured 7,568 pieces of ‘Unbiased.co.uk’ and ‘Blue Book Media IFA’ coverage positioning IFAs and the advice process in a positive light. The value of this media coverage, on an equivalent advertising basis, was £46.12 million (source: Panarc). During the same period, Mercer Oliver Wyman estimated that member IFAs earned up to £98 million in commission as a result of the half a million ‘Find an IFA’ enquiries Unbiased.co.uk fulfilled.

    We are only able to achieve these results through the ongoing investment made by our 30 product provider sponsors and the 4,000 firms subscribing to our OMP.

    Amongst industry groups, Unbiased.co.uk is uniquely positioned to generate consumer media coverage positioning IFAs and the advice process in a positive light. This is because our public facing ‘Find an IFA’ proposition enjoys a high hygiene factor – it is seen by the media and third party referrers to genuinely match enquirers up with the most appropriate local IFA whilst protecting enquirers’ personal confidentiality.

    This results in Unbiased.co.uk’s consumer PR messages – eg Tax Action, Debt Freedom Day, Savings Brake, etc, being favourably received. Inevitably, resulting consumer media coverage carries a call to action for readers/listeners/viewers to visit Unbiased.co.uk to find local independent financial advice. As a result Unbiased.co.uk is directly and cost effectively generating around 2,500 pieces of positive consumer media coverage each year, across national/regional print, online and broadcast consumer media.

    Unbiased.co.uk’s Blue Book ‘Find a Media IFA’ service seeks to broaden out the pool of IFAs quoted in the media by matching journalists up with the most appropriate Media IFA. It is fair to say that IFAs enjoy unrivaled support in the consumer personal finance arena. Media IFAs are quoted extensively and they are invariably positioned as expert commentators and called ‘IFAs’ – giving the IFA brand invaluable support across the personal finance media spectrum.

    Unbiased.co.uk measures around 5,000 pieces of media coverage featuring Blue Book Media IFAs each year. Over the last 12 months, the online Blue Book ‘Find a Media IFA’ service has been used 26,000 times by journalists seeking Media IFAs for expert commentary and case studies. According to IPSOS Mori, 84% of personal finance and trade journalists now use Unbiased.co.uk’s Blue Book ‘Find a Media IFA’ service.

    After personal/professional referral, the web is the now the single most important source of new business for IFAs. Within this context, Unbiased.co.uk is attempting to ensure that when people go online to start researching their financial advice options, wherever possible, they end up with IFA data rather than details of other adviser types.

    – At any given time, Unbiased.co.uk is bidding on around 2 million search terms to ensure that its service appears at the top of the paid-for search listings on UK search engines for relevant searches. All of Unbiased.co.uk’s web content is optimised to ensure its service appears on the natural listings on UK search engines for relevant searches.

    – Over 60 white label co-branded versions of Unbiased.co.uk’s ‘Find an IFA’ service now feature in the money channels of portals, personal finance websites, product providers and trade bodies. If you type ‘Find an IFA’ in to Google UK, 80% of the returned links over the first five pages of search results feature either links to Unbiased.co.uk or a white label version of our ‘Find an IFA’ service running on partner websites.

    – Increasingly, Unbiased.co.uk co-branded content (guide to ‘independent financial advice’, consumer guides, interactive tools, podcasts and vodcasts) is being used on a white label basis by the portals and personal finance websites who now view Unbiased.co.uk as a trusted online content provider.

    Because Unbiased.co.uk’s ‘Find an IFA’ service genuinely seeks to match enquirers with the most appropriate local IFA (without coercion), when that enquirer arrives at the point of advice under their own steam they are inevitably a warm lead. And because Unbiased.co.uk leaves enquirers in control of the selection process, around 75% of the enquiries Unbiased.co.uk handles come from third party referrers – enabling Unbiased.co.uk to generate large volumes of quality leads for its member IFAs very cost effectively.

    Each year, Unbiased.co.uk handles around half a million requests for details of local member IFAs.

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