Recently I was belaboured verbally for finding fault with so many aspects of financial services. On this particular occasion it related to comments made regarding my tenure on the Apfa council.
When I resigned from the council it was not my intention to publicly berate Apfa or pour scorn on its policies or procedures. I considered my time there as a worthwhile attempt to instil some backbone into an organisation that had been vilified as a talking shop.
However, subsequent events have altered this view. Within three minutes of leaving the council meeting a press release had been hastily flashed to all quarters stating I had resigned to “seek new opportunities”. This term is generally used by organisations to describe the departure of an executive or director when he or she has been booted out.
As previously stated, until then I had no intention of making any public comment.
Since then, council member and fellow columnist Neil Liversidge has refuted comments I have made. He has missed the point, possibly because I have failed to explain myself adequately, so here goes.
I am not naïve enough to believe that democracy works. A veneer of democracy exists but the power of any individual is limited. Perhaps I was naïve in wanting to believe the Apfa council would be different.
I suggested, in a private telephone call to director general Chris Hannant, that as the majority of members were small firms their collective voice would be diminished if additional council members were allowed.
Hannant felt the current set-up was fine as it had been in existence for many years. He also stated those council members representing networks were surely looking after their advisers’ interests. I asked what would happen when a yes vote would be to the advantage of small firms but would negatively affect a network’s balance sheet.
Hannant felt the networks would vote for their members and he may be right. But I felt it would provide an appropriate balance if the number of small-firm council members was raised from four to six. He agreed to add this to the following month’s agenda.
At the meeting my suggestion was immediately ripped to shreds by three councillors, two of whom explained to me that networks definitely have the same goals and agenda as small firms. I had not mentioned networks at any stage and yet my suggestion was still spiked.
I did not leave the council because I considered it to be toothless. But if those purporting to be on your own side are fighting against you then the time to go beckons, and it is for this reason and no other that I resigned.
Alan Lakey is partner at Highclere Financial Services