Since the imposition of statutory regulation many have questioned what type of adviser representation is required.
More specifically, many have argued about how any representative body should conduct itself. Should it cuddle up to the regulator and receive occasional goodies and pats on the muzzle like a slow-thinking lapdog? Should it bite as well as make growling noises or should it position itself where it lives or dies by virtue of its successes or failures?
The history of adviser representation is littered with disparate figures, including those who pursued the objective of balance in what they believed to be a severely tilted field where the regulator kicks downhill (apologies to Walter Merricks).
There also those who believe that regular interaction with the regulator and other government agencies is in itself a worthwhile end result, possibly believing that using osmosis or some arcane methodology they can subvert the less savoury tendencies of the E14 inhabitants.
Advisers are far too divergent to ever agree on a single course of action. Additionally there is the heavy overcoat of apathy that deflects every worthwhile attempt to engage the rump of advisers into some form of coherent action.
Many advisers are trepidatious, fearful of exposing their heads above the turrets and whilst there is much disagreement about the way to react to overzealous regulation there is not much dispute that such regulation exists.
Many see Apfa as a talking shop, and as a Council member for 17 months I am often asked whether I believe it is capable of making a difference.
I am also asked what it is that I have achieved during my tenure on the council. Have I managed to insinuate any personal philosophy into the overall ethos? Have I accomplished anything to validate my position? The sad answer is no, I cannot think of a single difference I have made as a council member. Conversely I can point to many achievements accomplished outside of the council with respect to the Financial Ombudsman Service, claims firms, the Ministry of Justice etc.
Recently it was announced that Apfa would meet with the FCA to discuss the long-stop issue. My request to be party to the meeting was rebuffed yet history will show that Apfa both now and in its previous incarnation has a lack of knowledge regarding the long-stop and associated issues.
So, is the jury still out on Apfa? Perhaps, as an industry, we get both the regulator and representative body that we deserve.
Alan Lakey is partner at Highclere Financial Services