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Apfa considers free default membership for all advisers

Apfa is considering making membership free and automatic for all advisers and charging for additional services, Money Marketing understands.

The trade body held an away day for council members last month at which they were divided into groups and told to devise ideas to expand membership and get more advisers on board.

One group proposed that every adviser should become a member of Apfa by default, which would boost the trade body’s lobbying credibility. Apfa says it currently represents about 65 per cent of the adviser market.

Default membership would be free, and advisers would be able to choose from a number of paid-for additional services.

If the proposal goes ahead, it is thought it could be implemented as early as this year.

A spokesman for Apfa says: “Apfa recently had a strategy day to discuss its future role against the backdrop of far-reaching change within the profession.

“Discussions were wide ranging and some of the thinking extremely insightful and creative, with lots of ideas to consider. Some of these ideas might surface in the future and some will not, but before then a lot of further discussion and refinement is required. It is early days.”

Evolve Financial Planning director James Norton says: “This idea has the right intentions but seems slightly disingenuous. Union membership and the Labour Party springs to mind – to say you have 100 per cent membership and therefore 100 per cent support is wrong.”

Apfa currently charges an annual membership fee of £238 per firm, plus an additional £113 for each registered individual at the firm. Companies with more than 10 registered individuals pay slightly more.

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Comments

There are 13 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. In that case seeing as I paid my £351 sole trader subscription in January – can I have a refund please? I’ll then decide what services (if any) I require.

  2. I think the idea has a lot of merit and don’t see it as being disigenuous at all, unless you want to label all unions that way. Any union member has a right to have their voice heard but most unions have a vote on important issues, and the majority takes the day, as it does in a democracy. I’m not saying all unions have behaved all that well, in the past, but what body has?

  3. Paolo Standerwick 21st February 2014 at 9:46 am

    Until APFA get some teeth I wouldn’t want to be associated with them. I need to some real progress first.

  4. This is a very sensible idea. At the moment I struggle to see the point of this organisation which appeared to go native with the FSA over RDR when advisers most needed it.

    However, under the new leadership its voice appears to be getting stronger and I would like to be a part of it. Maybe it is worth the current fees but a ‘try before you buy” approach like this may just get the membership up.

    Long term I believe top exert lobbying clout you have to have a paying membership but I think that Harry’s quote above of £351 a year is rather too higher starting point. Free membership for year one and then a lower basic entry point maybe at £10 a month. They could maybe raise it further if they could provide an SPS so we could ditch the loathed CII..

  5. What about a continuous and gradual reduction of the £35 annual fee as more advisers join?

  6. Soren

    You CAN ditch the loathed CII – join the IFP. They are able to issue SPS. Much nicer organisation all round (and a fraction of the cost of APFA).

  7. Soren, Also look at the the IFS. I dicthed the loathed CII when starting down. QCF 4. I think thier annual fee is something like £65 AND they are able to provide you with an SPS for a small fee. Even if you are not a member I think they will issue an SPS for a fee as long as you can demonstrate the required CPD has been done. It is not all doom and gloom out there as long as you know there are allternatives to the CII. I really despise them with a passion, but thats just my own humble opinion of course

  8. I pay the same fee as Harry. Whilst I like the idea of increasing membership by making the fee more cost effective and then requiring an extra payment for additional services, to be truly representative, I disagree with automatic membership, just as I disagreed with mandatory membership of Professional Body (it isn’t mandatory, you just can’t get an SPS without joining most of the bodies).
    Membership by default should not take place, it should be a conscious decision and under contract law, I would suggest a payment for the admin as a minimum, whether that is £1, £35 or £100 is immaterial.

  9. Although there are options to get a SPS from other accredited bodies for those that despise the CII/PFS for a reduced cost and perhaps a better service. However is that saving worth it if your qualifications are with the CII/PFS as you would not be able to use your designation (DipPFS, APFS, FPFS or Chartered Financial Planner) as you need to be a member to be able to use them, as far as I am aware! The PFS site says “MEMBERS are entitled to use internationally recognised designations on personal communication materials, business cards, resume, letterhead and so on.” Plus members are agreeing to several other conditions.

    I expect that you can get a new designation from the IFS or IFP but that will probably cost. Plus although the CII/PFS don’t have a lot of “fans” they have the most recognised designations due to their near monopoly. Achieved on the back of doing their best to crush those who try to tread on their patch.

    I would be interested in finding out how those with CII/PFS qualifications deal with this. For example if you have spent years obtaining Chaptered you would not want to ditch that even if it is costing you around £200 for membership fees.

    I see the CII say they now have 4,000 chartered financial planners so that is an income of £800,000 from chartered people alone! Several millionsacross all members in membership fees alone.

  10. @ Alison
    Do clients really know about the CII – and do they care? Does anyone look at the letters behind your name (I don’t mean yours I am speaking generally).

    I am entitled to use CFP behind may name. I never put it on correspondence (either paper or e-mail) and it is only found on my business card – which is rarely presented).

    These escutcheons are mainly for the use of the industry who places importance on them, but if you are qualified – your are qualified and the Crass Insurance Institute can’t take that away.

    Anyway far more importantly – is that a picture of a 1936 Cord?

  11. @ Alison You may not be able to use DipPFS etc but you can use DipFA & MIFS etc as a member of IFS along with a string of others if you have them (assuming one actually cares). As Harry says clients know little and care less. To be honest I have yet to have a new client say to me “Marty I am doing businerss because you have letters after your name”. This may be inportant to some advisers and to those for whom it is a big deal, fair play to you. There is no taking away the flaming effort it took to get qualified whilst still running our businesses but my on view is that as long as you have the SPS that says it all because you have reached the required standard and maintained it.

  12. Marty and Harry I agree that the majority of the public don’t care and that for you both your experience is that it has never been an issue.

    At the same time is does need a careful consideration if you want to give up the use of the letters and needs some consideration. There would be a limited market for others such as the APFA offering a SPS as someone mentioned they might want to consider as my guess is that not many would use that as they do feel the designation have some value however limited. The inclusion of the SPS with the professional body membership makes it hard for anyone else to want to offer.

    There does seem a growing move to Chartered and that has a little bit of recognition with the public. With 4,000 chartered many obviously do feel it matters if not much now then in the future as in a number of years those without chaptered may be in the minority.

    There are benefits other than the use of letters in terms of development for many advisers as well!

    It is just a shame you have to pay so much for the use of the designations! Especially when you don’t want any of the other “services” that the CII offer. Why should you have to subsidise these!

    Yes it is Harry – good spot!

  13. @Alison

    You are undoubtedly a lady of discernment and impeccable good taste – I don’t refer to financial services – although no doubt that may well apply, but to your Automotive acumen. A far more important and engaging topic than all this.

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