View more on these topics

Aifa&#39s 80/20 vision

When the new single trade body for IFAs was set up last September, its


dream was to give the community a united voice. So how does director


general Paul Smee respond to criticism that it cannot hope to represent the


views both of small and big IFA firms? &#39If you like what it is doing 80 per


cent of the time and only disagree with its stance 20 per cent of the time,


this should be good enough,&#39 he tells Joanne O&#39Connell


Are you the odd one out at parties? Is telling people you are an IFA a


conversation stopper? Do people whisper about pension misselling behind


your back?


For IFAs who feel nobody understands them, help is at hand. Association of


Independent Financial Advisers director general Paul Smee says IFAs can


join forces through trade bodies, be kept up to date on relevant issues and


be part of an organisation which lobbies on their behalf.


Launched last September, Aifa was set up with the int ention of giving


IFAs a uni ted voice.


Smee says: “Joining a trade body is the only way for IFAs&#39 voices to be


heard. Aifa was set up to represent the interests of all IFAs from sole


traders to large firms.”


However, Aifa has been given a mixed reception by IFAs. The trade body has


not hit the spot for some IFAs who say its lobbying is ineffectual, that it


does little to raise the plight of IFAs and its fees do not offer value for


money.


The Analysts director Tom Kean says: “I want a trade body to lobby on my


behalf and shout the views of IFAs from the rooftops but Aifa seems


ineffectual at lobbying, does not get our message across and its fees are


expensive. You can bet your bottom dollar most people do not know about the


plight of IFAs.”


Bateman Group senior consultant Ian Smith says: “IFAs do need a good,


single IFA organisation to speak out for us but we have not got one so


far.”


However, Aifa also has strong supporters, with some IFAs saying they have


been waiting for this type of trade body for a long time.


They believe Aifa will achieve results precisely because it is not as


confrontational as previous representative organisations.


Lambourn Buckingham partner Susie Footit says: “It is about time we had a


trade body like Aifa. It is quick to respond to issues at the forefront of


IFAs&#39 minds.”


Aifa&#39s recent move to secure the membership of the UK&#39s biggest


high-street IFA, Bradford & Bingley, sees it representing 60 per cent of


IFAs.


Smee says Aifa provides several services for IFAs. These include a focal


point for press comment and Government contact and disseminating


information on industry issues so IFAs can identify trends which may affect


them ahead of time.


Aifa has 13,500 regist ered individuals from more than 5,000 firms and


Smee says it has the membership of sole traders as well as big firms.


However, some IFAs from big firms say there is no need to join Aifa as


they can stand alone while small IFA firms say they have found other ways


to get their voices heard.


Hargreaves Lansdown chairman Stephen Lansdown says: “I am not a member of


Aifa as it would be a waste of time. We are a big company so we are large


enough to stand on our own two feet. If we joined Aifa, we would be paying


money for nothing.”


Informed Choice managing director Nick Bamford says: “I am not a member of


Aifa and do not need it to put across my views. I am fortunate enough to be


able to speak to journalists regularly in both the national and trade press


so I have a different channel to air my views.”


Some IFAs say Aifa membership fees are too high and the charging structure


puts them off.


Wentworth Rose managing director Philip Rose says: “We have been tempted


to join Aifa but we think the charging structure is problematic. If you


want to join Aifa, you have to pay a company fee and then pay another fee


for each member of your firm who wants to join as a registered individual


so our firm would have to pay four times over. Why should we do that when


Aifa will not go to four times more trouble on our behalf as a result?”


However, Aifa is worth the expense as far as Chadwicks director Richard


Ross is concerned.


He says: “I think Aifa is doing a tremendous job. It is actually doing


things on a practical level which makes IFAs&#39 jobs easier. For example,


offering meeting rooms in London at good rates for IFAs to meet their


clients is useful. I receive email every two to three weeks keeping me up


to date on industry issues. Aifa not only lobbies on your behalf but also


lets you know it is lobbying on your behalf.”


It is lobbying which is seen by IFAs as a primary func tion of trade


bodies and they say this is where Aifa falls down as it does not seem to


shout loudly enough.


But IFAs admit it is difficult for any one trade body to represent such a


diverse range of views, ranging from sole traders to big companies.


However, they are not happy to be a member of an organisation which may


not voice their individual opin ions on industry issues.


Bamford says: “A joint voice is a great strength but it is also a


weakness. There can be common ground among IFAs but there is also a range


of different views. When you sign up to a trade body, they have to


represent all their members but speak with one voice. I do not want a trade


body like Aifa to purport to represent me, the IFA, if they do not support


my views 100 per cent.”


Kean says signing up to a trade body is like being part of a political


party, as it must represent the views of the majority. He says: “Like in


any democracy, you have to toe the line. Trade bodies have to take the


views of the majority of their members.”


But Smee says he always answers IFAs who are concerned about the majority


view swamping their individual voice by saying it is the same in any


collective and they have to be realistic.


Smee says: “I always say to remember the 80/20 rule. If you like what Aifa


is saying 80 per cent of the time and only disagree with its stance 20 per


cent of the time, this should be good enough. As an individual member of a


collective group, you cannot expect to like everything Aifa says 100 per


cent of the time. But we do try to make sure everyone is happy 80 per cent


of the time.”

Recommended

Friendlies call for return to joint branding in polarisation rethink

Friendly Societies are call ing for the polarisation reg ime to be relaxedand a ret urn to joint branding with third parties.The Association of Friendly Societies&#39 submission to the FSA calls for thecurrent rules to be tweaked to remove what it describes as the damagingside-effects that pol arisation has on friendlies and providers ofspecialist niche […]

ScotProv admits mutual status is being reviewed

Scottish Provident has rejected calls by carpetbaggers for anextraordinary general meeting to decide on its future mutual status.But the life office has admitted that it is carrying out its own reviewinto its status.Rejecting a letter from carpetbaggers demanding an EGM, the board says itsstatus is already under review and an EGM is not appropriate.The board […]

Fund stars shift orbits

Jupiter and M&G have been dealt a blow with the loss of star fund managers.Jupiter fund manager William Littlewood has ended speculation on whetherhe will return from his three-month sabbatical by retiring “indefinitely”because of chronic fatigue.M&G high-profile fund manager Nick Train is leaving just as the companycomp letes a merger with Prudential Portfolio Managers which […]

B&W boosts e-commerce

Bristol & West is launching two e-commerce initiatives to increase accessto its services.Its new website includes four internet-only products, while itsinteractive site with Telewest Communications on digital television givesit a foothold in the new distribution channel.B&W is hoping the innovations will help it foster new relationships withcustomers by giving them access to information whenever and […]

The curious market reaction to Brexit

Written by Mike Riddell29 June 2016 Headlines over the past few days have screamed about record falls in sterling, record low bond yields and massive falls in equity prices. However, if you take a slightly longer view of markets rather than simply the one- or two-day reaction, I think it’s amazing how little markets have […]

Newsletter

News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up

Comments

    Leave a comment