Apfa senior policy adviser Caroline Escott writes ahead of Apfa’s vote to join forces with the WMA today
The most fundamental reason for a trade association to exist is to be an advocate on behalf of a particular sector.
Apfa chairman and former Secretary of State for the Environment Lord Deben has previously explained that ministers do not want to hear from individual firms representing a variety of narrow organisational views, all of which slightly differ from those of other similar businesses.
Instead, policymakers would prefer to discuss issues with a coalition of like-minded organisations that represent the breadth of a particular industry.
This usually means that, the larger the coalition or trade association in terms of members, assets and resources, the greater its ability to effectively represent its members’ views.
This is one of the reasons why the proposed merger between Apfa and the Wealth Management Association to become the Investment Management and Financial Advice Association makes sense for current members.
By representing the full spectrum of what is becoming an increasingly diverse retail investment chain, the IMFA would be able to wield more influence on the policy and regulatory issues affecting advisers and be the “go-to” body on retail investment and advice issues.
Recent years have seen us take part in a number of investment management policy debates on members’ behalf and the interests of our members have increasingly overlapped with those of wealth managers.
Combining our expertise with that of the WMA should enable us to better contribute to policymaking on these issues.
What the membership gains
Members would also have access to the IMFA’s comprehensive event and seminar programme across the UK, as well as to a wider range of magazines, journals, and policy and regulatory updates.
The new organisation would continue to provide plenty of opportunity for adviser members to engage and feed views into its operation. The current council – which includes smaller local and regional firms, as well as networks and nationals – would form part of the IMFA’s board. There will also be a dedicated Financial Advice and Planning Committee, formed of adviser members, which will focus on the issues that matter most to the advice community.
This proposed merger is part of a broader trend in the financial services trade association landscape, which has undergone a period of consolidation over the last few years.
The Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment and the Institute of Financial Planning decided to join forces a short while back, while a series of mergers was also recommended by the Financial Services Trade Associations Review, which focused on the banking and payments trade associations.
The review noted there was significant duplication and overlap in the remits and activities of such bodies as the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the British Banking Association and so on.
It also suggested those firms that were members of more than one of these organisations were beginning to suffer from “stakeholder fatigue”, as they responded over and over again to requests for the same information from different sources.
Taking the right road forward
The last 15 years has seen us adapt to the changing needs of our members and the advice community more generally. Every single member of our current council believes the proposed merger would be of benefit to adviser members, for all the reasons I have outlined above.
The EGM will be taking place on 23 May and I encourage all Apfa members to share their views on the future of their trade association.
Caroline Escott is senior policy adviser at Apfa