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Aifa: What we have done for IFAs

There was much amusement this summer as Monty Python references entered the debate about trade body politics. This left some younger members scratching their heads but it did cause me to reflect on that other famous sketch which asked: “What have the Romans ever done for us?”

Let’s look at just some of this year’s outcomes and how they were achieved.

Our work on the Keydata interim levy caused the FSA to issue an open letter allowing IFAs to resubmit their tariff data. This resulted from probing the basis for the calculations and the rules and may make a significant difference to many IFA firms.

The delay announced on capital adequacy requirements followed persistent lobbying by Aifa and others and will save significant amounts of money.

The Consumer Focus enquiry and report on renewal/ trail commission was much altered and received little traction after 10 months of lobbying by Aifa. Our response in the press was forceful and effective. If you have not heard of Consumer Focus, that is a great result – you certainly would have.

The recent simplified advice consultation from the FSA takes a line which is helpful to the IFA community and follows discussions between Aifa and the regulator at a senior level. We have consistently pressed for a level playing field so that banks would not be allowed to operate advice at a lower standard than IFAs.

It is worth noting that different issues require different approaches. Sometimes, it is shaping and lobbying, sometimes it is probing and debating the rules and sometimes the best approach is vocality – there is no single tool to do the job. It is also important to see that some of the above points did not result from Aifa’s work alone. There is greater chance of success when different elements of our community lobby on the same issue with a consistent perspective.
But the work goes on. The four members of our policy team are working on RDR implementation issues such as legacy commission, data reporting, European directives, taxation, mortgage directives and the MMR.

And centre stage is the work to influence the new regulatory framework as the Financial Services Bill goes through the Parliamentary process this autumn. Aifa’s purpose is to work for a better trading environment for its members and this is an important opportunity to make our voice heard.

Of course, it is not just our members that benefit from our policy work – their commitment and subscriptions allow non-members to benefit too. For example, Aifa’s work on FSA fees benefited the IFA community to the tune of £11.7m in 2009/10, which is equivalent to subscriptions to Aifa for many years.

Some IFAs are vehemently opposed to Aifa’s policy positions and I would not expect them to rush to join.

To those who have not really thought about membership, I would hope the message is clear. And to those whose subscriptions allow the Aifa team to continue its work for the community, I simply say thank you.

Stephen Gay is director general of Aifa


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There are 20 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Let us all get down on bended knee and give thanks to almighty AIFA.

    Thank you AIFA for protecting me from the ravagers of RDR.

    Thank you AIFA for giving the FSA such a thorough thrashing when they wanted to dismantle our industry.

    Oh no you didn’t do the above, roll over and let the FSA slap the other cheek.


  2. The roads, sanitation and the aqueduct. Oh, sorry you said AIFA…

  3. AIFA are a joke. I went to a meeting of theirs recently, I managed twenty mins of self congratulatory nonsense and left.

    I am still upset at the lost 20 mins.

  4. Well you have to hand it to them, in the world of self praise the one with the pen is king. Now if he hadn’t done it himself who else would have? So he has had to otherwise its another week of pounding really.
    So what have you done for IFA’s Stephen? Precious little, so little in fact that you are opening the doors to all and sundry which to me is selling out. But then its a while since AIFA had any of my money. So wil you now do what your new members have to do and remove the word ‘independent’? AFA then. Has a nice ring to it don’t you think?
    Flippant hat back off…..

  5. Neil F Liversidge 17th October 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Martyn, your perception is far from the reality and in any case, most of what went on with RDR took place under Chris Cummings, not Steve Gay. As long as I have served on the Council AIFA has taken a robust – albeit constructive – line with the FSA and shows every sign of continuing to do so; indeed I personally intend to ensure that is the case. Steve Gay’s reference to the famous scene in the Life of Brian does however call to mind another scene in the same great movie – that where the Zealots are discusing the merits of the People’s Front of Judaea versus the Judaean People’s Front. History has taught us time and again that those who fragment any cause merely play into the hands of the opposition. If any adviser is unhappy with the course taken by AIFA the thing to do is to join and voice your opinions forcefully. (At this point Gill Cardy please take note – if you divide the FSA will rule.) So how’s about it Martyn – can we rely on you to make a positive contribution that will advance the cause of the whole adviser sector by putting your hand in your pocket, joining and having your say, or are you just going to take the cheap option of pointlessly carping from the sidelines?

  6. Neil F Liversidge 17th October 2011 at 4:15 pm

    To ‘Mr Anonymous who is missing 20 minutes’ – Why are you anonymous? AIFA doesn’t ‘send the boys around’ to those who criicise it. I guess it’s just a cheap and easy way to have a shot without having to back up what you say. How sad.

  7. As soon a s alife insurance individual took over that is when AIFA stopped being IFA friendly.As an institution that reckons it has done so much for the IFA community its like the Ostrich with head in sand cannot see in front for looking. The IFA profession will be decimated with RDR and AIFA have done nothing to stop it

  8. I was a founder member of AIFA until about four years ago, when I asked them for some help, by letter.

    Guess what, despite reminders, no response whatever, so I left, still no response. They want our fees but do nothing for them

    They couldn’t fight their way out of a bowl of custard, let alone fight the corner for their members, who would almost to an be better off without them. I know I am

  9. I’m not a member so can only comment from the impressions I have garnered over time from forums such as this. My overwhelming impression is of a typically smug organisation that claims to represent IFAs but appears instead to set it’s own agenda – just another example of a body that acts on the basis of “we know what is best for you” rather than asking what the members want?

  10. Perhaps Stephen ought to remember the old adage…’Self Praise is NO Praise AT ALL’ before he shows such a distinct lack of reason and humility.
    If he has to tell us what he is doing and we cannot evidence it for ourselves something must be wrong.

  11. AIFA have done precisely nothing. The pubic still do not know the difference between a financial adviser and an independent financial adviser. RDR is costly, poorly thought through, will do nothing for consumer confidence, reduce consumer choice, and make independent financial advice a luxury for the few. Well Done !Thanks for nothing. I have cancelled my membership.

  12. Neil F Liversidge 17th October 2011 at 5:29 pm

    As an IFA I regularly explain to clients that they can’t have something for nothing. If they don’t want their family to be left destitute they have to pay for cover. If they want a comfortable old age they must invest. If they don’t want the local authority and the government to loot their estates they must spend on planning. And of course for all of these things they must pay me, one way or another, commission or fees, if they want me to advise and arrange the necessary planning. Why is it then that so many of you can so delude yourselves as to believe that your voice will ever be heard by the regulator and its political masters if you are not prepared to invest in proper representation? The fact is that AIFA runs on a shoestring budget yet still manages to punch massively above its weight and IS listened to by the powers that be. I’ve been in this business 31 years and the sad hard truth is that too many of our ‘colleagues’ are just to plain mean to put their hands in their pockets, so they take a free ride on those of us who do pay and indulge in self-justification by the kind of ignorant ill-informed and inaccurate tripe posted above. OK, some people will never change, and Gill Cardy and anyone else who thinks they can represent the industry will have precisely the same experience. I just hope it doesn’t come as too much of a shock when – not if – it happens. You will not, however, deflect us from the job we are trying to do, that of obtaining a fair deal for all advisers in every aspect and facet and at every opportunity. So, carry on hanging on to the pennies and blogging anonymously while you benefit from the work and money the rest of us put in, but do not think for one minute that you will ever discourage us.

  13. Whilst it is interesting to read all the comments here with Mr Liversidge trying to defend AIFA, unless I am mistaken (and I could be) was AIFA not in full support of RDR and if so on what basis do they feel this is best for advisers and consumers and what research was done?

    Personally I despair of everything that has gone on in this industry over the last 20+ years and now believe that “regulation” has been at the heart of many of the problems we now have. So if you believe the same then one has to ask if AIFA has make much of a difference no matter how hard theyclaim to have tried

    For me it is Government that has failed us and the last one particularly by giving the FSA absolute power that even Government can do little about or prefer to do noting about it as they refuse to use the power of Parliament to make the necessary changes and the new regulatory authorities don’t look much different.

    If things are so much better for us all, then why are people saving less, failing to save for retirement and are in far too much debt?

    This is hardly success in my view by anyone, IFA’s included, but more so those who have access to those in Government, which must include AIFA.

    Mr Liversidge mentions we must ” invest in proper representation” which all sounds well and good but what if you believe this has failed us for years and years as would seem to be the case from many who have commented on here?

  14. Why would any IFA want to be a member of such a joke outfit??? They sold us down the river on RDR as they have no teeth, total waste of time, and now Mr Gay is tying to win us over, no way Mr Gay , NEVER!!

  15. Personally, I have a lot of time for Neil Liversidge – he’s one of the good guys – but I am afraid AIFA has been dead in the water for what now amounts to years – no amount of window dressing will change that.

    Yes Neil you are right getting IFAs to join up to anything is akin to herding cats but given the appalling representation from AIFA previously it is hardly surprising some are trying (thats why Alan Lakey and me started Adviser Alliance). Nothing would give me greater pleasure than seeing proper robust representation of a majority of IFA members whether it be from AIFA or anyone else.

    Hardly surprising then that AIFA only has itself to blame (notwithstanding Neil’s good intentions – there are far too many toadies in the ranks past and present) its all too late for AIFA me thinks. Sorry Neil, ‘when in a hole stop digging’ and ‘stop flogging a dead horse’

  16. AIFA – if you want to do something for IFA’s why not become a registered body supplying SPS certificates? That would help IFA’s escape the clutches of the hated CII and AIFA could then finally become the financial equivalent of the Law Society that we so desperately need.

    A body that regulates and promotes our services.

  17. It is said that perception is everything.

    The perception of AIFA is of an organisation that reversed into a cul de sac and is now making a pigs ear of the nine-point turn.

    AIFA fought against grandfatering when the bulk of the industry supported it. Indeed, every professional body allows existing practitioners to continue in business when they upgrade entry-level qualifications.

    AIFA made a very poor show of arguing for a 15 year longstop. Although it didn’t stop them claiming some credit when the TSC considered the matter a while back.

    Should we not, as an industry, accept that no one body can support the aspirations of all practitioners? The mooted Gill Cardy body is IFA only, a strange choice given that the majority of advisers are likely to be railroaded into the ‘restricted’ partition.

    Chris Cummings single-handedly destroyed AIFA in a Nero-like performance and it will struggle to recover from his antics.

  18. This article is rather a co-incidence as having been a member of IFADU and about a 3 months after the launch of AA I paid my dues to them, I have been a member of the IFP, PFS and AIFA. Invariably a member of two at any time as it’s a bit like political parties, you can never agree with all their manifesto or methods and sometime a short sharp shock is needed i.e. vote them out and then vote them back in after 3 years.
    I have (and will remain) a member of AA for at least the next 3 years, when I will review there plans and intentions.
    Having resigned from the PFS/CII on principle when mandatory membership of a professional body was being mooted, after discussions with David Ross, I actually reapplied last week, but due to yet another problem with the CII’s weird view of the world I ahve told them they can whistle for my membership for another year.
    Now AIFA and Gill Cardy’s new idea. I have great respect for Gill and I haven’t actually looked at or discussed her ideas, but I believe (until she can explain to me otherwise) that an organisation with sub sections i.e. AFA with AIFA as part of it and restricted advisers as part of it and tied advisers as another part with NO involvement from a provider is the way forward.
    I have spoken to Harry Katz on several occassions and we agree on most things (just I despair at the way he puts things over sometimes). Neil Liversidge didn’t stand for election under AIFA untile after RDR was on a role and was not a party to a lot of the original statements. Nor was Stepehen Gay (who I know nothing about). Neil has my full support (as does Alan Lakey) and hence my application to rejoin AIFA is going off tommorrow.
    I just hope Gill Cardy doesn’t manage to persuade me I need to join her and Paul Etheridge (whose Truth software I think is great), doesn’t result in me deciding IFP should be added to my list.
    Divide and Fall or stand together on the Key issues.

  19. AIFA is effectively run by the Council, the DG, the policy team and the others (the few who are left) give input and the Council makes the final decision.

    Blame the Council because it is not representative of the vast majority of firms, it has members such as Simply Biz (not an IFA) who claim that the pittance handed over by Ken Davy allows its commission club members free membership when it doesn’t. They won’t upset dear old Ken because he is supposed to useful, having access to MPs and Ministers, can you see any evidence of usefulness?

    Then you look at other Council members past and present…. Networks who dominate AIFA but pay peanuts into the pot, they think RDR is a good thing, Harry does too, no idea why others are on the Council, they have their own strange agenda.

    The model is bust, always was because IFAs cannot stick together, like herding cats Alan?

    The regulators on both sides of the Channel listen to power and influence, not a bunch of moaning minnies. You needed the consumer on your side, that is where the real power lies.

    IFA – RIP?

  20. i too was a founder member way back in 1990 when infelt IFAs instaed oghaving numerous small voices should have amuch larger representation ,the views of the iFS being channelled to the challange the authoities ,life offices etc. iIn stead over year AIFA has followed it own path set down bt diffrent CE,s over time and played scant notice of the feelings of ifas in general and how they operate
    Now we have RDR and the making of a cottage indusrtywhere once it was thriving.Robust defence!! more like paper bag defence with holes in and wet through

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