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Apfa proposes merger with WMA

Apfa says more members and resources will help them fight for IFAs better

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Apfa director general Chris Hannant

Apfa is proposing a merger with the Wealth Management Association.

A letter to members seen by Money Marketing from Apfa chairman Lord Deben says that the adviser trade body would benefit from the increased scale and resources from teaming up with the WMA.

Deben writes: “I firmly believe that having a strong voice for the advice profession is of the utmost importance. Apfa has sought to present the strongest adviser case, the value of which is demonstrated by successes such as persuading the FCA to change its mind on making advice firms record telephone calls.

“But we could always do more. Therefore, we are proposing to join forces with the WMA so we can represent you better. A larger trade body will have more members and resources, so will be able to cover more issues and make a more effective case on your behalf.”

The new body would be known as Investment Management and Financial Advice Association, and would be led by WMA chief executive Liz Field.

It would add the WMA’s 180 wealth management firms and associate members to Apfa’s membership.

New leadership

Current Apfa director general will leave the organisation after a “transition period”.

Hannant told Money Marketing: “There is a spectrum in the regulated activity of investment intermediation with financial advisers at one end, private banks at the other and discretionary fund managers and other people in between. We are seeing a blurring in that distinction on that spectrum and some of our members are looking increasingly like some of the WMA members and vice versa and we have a number of mutual members. There was a growing overlap.

“It means a bigger, better-resourced organisation. It cuts out duplication where we are both talking to the FCA about fees and levies or Mifid. We will be able to do more and be a stronger voice for advisers and others. It is about doing the job better.”

However, advisers have expressed concerns about investment management influence diluting financial planner representation.

Syndaxi managing director Rob Reid says: “Its quite a different constituency. Im not sure there’s enough of a common objective between the two to make it work effectively.

“The most positive thing is it could reduce the costs.”

Libertatem director general Garry Heath said that a merger left “Libertatem as the only advisers-only association.”

Libertatem was launched in May 2015 as a second adviser trade body. It is understood that the WMA and Apfa talks did not include discussions on including Liberatem in a three-body merger.

Heath told Money Marketing: “Advisers are far better off in an organisation of their own. How is diluting the message – they can pretend it doesn’t but it does – end up doing any better than having you on your own?”

Heath said advisers operated in a “completely different world” from wealth managers.

Both boards have recommended the merger. Apfa will hold an extraordinary general meeting on 23 May for members to vote on the proposals.

Mergers mounting up

The proposed Apfa and WMA merger comes around 18 months after the Institute of Financial Planning merged with the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment.

The IFP now operates as a separate forum within the CISI.

Both Apfa and the IFP have dismissed arguments that mergers were proposed due to the financial viability of the organisations.

A joint statement today IMFA was expected to be “financially positive on a standalone basis by the end of the first year”.

If members approve the latest merger it will take effect on 1 June.

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Comments

There are 7 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. At last!

    You may recall that I was a director at AIFA for several years and resigned when it became APFA.

    When the financial difficulties became pressing under Stephen Gay’s tenure I had the temerity to suggest a merger (along with a few other ideas) and was slapped down pretty smartly. It has taken several years for the reality to sink in.

    Well done Chris Hannant for getting this far – I wish you every success.

    In those days my suggestion was a merger with the IFP, but a merger with whomsoever was the imperative. (Proof is available no doubt from the old minutes). I do hope that this will mark the end of the larger advisers (and Networks) having undue influence.

    I do think this is the right way to go and indeed it should have been done years ago.

  2. Neil F Liversidge 8th May 2017 at 5:08 pm

    @Rob Reid: I honestly don’t think it is that different a constituency, Rob. Like a lot of firms, we are advisers and wealth managers. The more we got into this the more I could see that the synergies massively outweighed the differences. Add in the avoidance of duplication and we can be a formidable force together.

    • I’ve been in both, they are very different in attitude, outlook and overall approach to regulation and promoting the business of their members. Whilst the WMA only has about 100 full members (and similar number of associates), it has more depth, vastly experienced staff in key positions, is better connected, and very active/engaged with its members. It might work but I suspect advisers will be playing second fiddle from the off and will be subsumed into obscurity in the long term. And the WMA may lose the essence of what they are and the immense goodwill they have built up with their members. Tricky.

  3. Here is the challenge. Financial Advisers generate over £6.5bn to the UK economy.

    They need circa £3.5m to run an all singing trade association. That’s 1% of their regulatory Invoices. Or £1 in every £2,000 of income.

    Does this merger say that as a Profession* or sector* (*pick your own epithet) we are so small minded, so pathetic that we cannot afford to fund our own body?

    Or does it say that APFA and its predecessors were so unattractive to advisers that they had to propped up by first the ABI and now the WMA?

    When we launched Libertatem we knew this day would come. Its put up or shut up. Either back representation properly or become a ghetto in someone elses body

    http://www.liberatem.org.uk/join

    • Gary

      That sounds very sour to me. I don’t know how many members your organisation has, but is it such a terrible thought if you pitched in with this new merged body? As you rightly allude – there is strength in numbers and if it takes mergers to attain a critical mass can that be a bad thing?

  4. Apfa………. ?

    The lion who fought like a lamb, the only redemption for it, would be to join the French Foreign Legion ………

  5. Julian Stevens 9th May 2017 at 7:06 pm

    A radically different agenda and approach are required. APFA’s agenda and approach achieved very little, as seen with its abject failure to win an inch of ground with the FCA on the issue of its denial of any longstop for advisers. Lobbying and trying to negotiate with the FCA are pointless.

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