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Chris Cummings: Aifa is in a tragic position

Former Aifa director general Chris Cummings says the IFA trade body is in a “tragic” position and is urging advisers to rally behind the organisation.

Aifa made an operating deficit of £194,419 for the year to June 30, 2011. It has seen significant changes in the past 12 months. In February, the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries split from Aifa to become a separate independent organisation.

In January, Cummings’ successor Stephen Gay left Aifa after just one year to join the Association of British Insurers. Aifa is yet to appoint a new director general.

Last July, Aifa said it will open its membership to restricted advisers, a move that angered some IFAs and prompted the formation of independent-only trade body IFA Centre.

Speaking to Money Marketing, TheCityUK chief executive Cummings says: “I think it is tragic that Aifa finds itself in such a difficult position and I sincerely hope that the financial advice profession comes together in order to ensure that it has the representation it deserves.

“There has never been a more important time for IFAs to have a strong representation body.”

TheCityUK is undertaking a review of the defined-contribution landscape ahead of automatic-enrolment.

Cummings says the review has led to discussions with policymakers over the need to extend the “nudge” principle behind auto-enrolment to self-employed workers.

He says: “A lot more thought in pension policy needs to be given to this issue. We are talking to various policymakers and Government departments about how that can come together.”



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There are 27 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. If we had a trade body we would not be in this mess! end of!

  2. AIFA supported RDR which will kill off most IFA’s. It will never be forgiven and should close.

  3. I cant comment on this without losing my composure

  4. I totally endorse Soren’s comment

  5. Derek Bradley ceo 19th April 2012 at 3:38 pm

    He says “There has never been a more important time for IFAs to have a strong representation body.”

    He is quite correct but he walked with the job not done, why? This is not really the time for “coulda, woulda, shoulda”!

    They say when you fall ski-ing that the place you fall is not where the mistake was made that caused it to happen. With AIFA is see a certain similarity.

  6. Sorry Chris, but when you were at the helm IFAs needed you then to support them against the unaccountable FSA and RDR so how can you expect us to support a body that failed us big time!

  7. The effete leadership of AIFA seems to be endemic.
    Go on approach Bob Crowe and poach him from the RMT. We might get a few things done. In my books, a rottweiller is a whole lot better than the parade of poodles we’ve had over the past few years.

    Ditto CII/PFS

  8. He dare he spout such rubbish, he was part of the problem. AIFA should close down, it will never be trusted!

  9. “There has never been a more important time for IFAs to have a strong representation body.”
    What a total Joke, We needed them three years ago, they promised to push for a judicial review on RDR, what happened ? Nothing. Where were they? Nowhere. Last one out please turn off the lights!!!

  10. “There has never been a more important time for IFAs to have a strong representation body.”
    Sorry Chris, there was a more important time. That was when the IFA sector was being decimated by the FSA and AIFA endorsing the RDR. AIFA stabbed the IFAs in the back. I’m now no longer an IFA but restricted because of this (having been a ‘founder member’). Poor Gary Heath can’t comment for fear of losing his composure. He was a great leader and we were well represented. Gary, I wish you were back in the seat and for my sins represent both IFAs & restricted advisers. We are all in this travesty of regulation together and need to support each other.

  11. Always Ineffectual Frequently Asleep.

  12. AIFA have made their bed, now its moaning that they have to lie in it !!!

    Pity they chose the FSA as bed fellows

  13. Chris I travelled to London to see you twice, I warned you of the results of RDR in no uncertain terms… you Ignored me and many others who left AIFA because we felt that you were not listening. Do not tell us we need a strong voice we know …. but you are part of the problem I hope you hang your head in shame. Same goes for Steven Gay who I also met and warned… same reaction, he then ran away to big brother! you have help destroy the only real trusted source of advice!

  14. The individuals and firms on the Council of AIFA both past and present are the ones responsible for your woes, not Chris, not Paul before him and certainly not Steve who came with the aim of sorting the Council out and making AIFA leaner.

    Unfortunately gathering IFAs is akin to herding Katz.

  15. Becoming a headcase IFA 19th April 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Don’t forget the IFA assassin, Stephen Gaye.

  16. For me this is comment of the week

    “Unfortunately gathering IFAs is akin to herding Katz.”

  17. Exasperated Me @ 4:03
    I think you have missed the point. AIFA did not do anything constructively for the IFA in the past. Chris obviously supported RDR etc, and Paul and Steve have not to my knowledge actually come out and said RDR is a shocking travesty and should not go ahead. They havent said that the FSA are not fit for purpose and overly expensive plus unfair to the IFA etc. When they stand up, shout loudly to support the IFA, then maybe, maybe IFAs & restricted advisers will give THEM support, but to support them just to stop them ‘failing’ would be just plain stupid.

  18. Too late I fear and AIFA have only themselves to blame.

    They are now finding out where their bread is buttered.

    They now to need to .contract to match their revenue like many other businesees and I suspect many IFA’s will be doing the same post RDR.

  19. And who got them into this ‘tragic’ position? Who legged it before a deficit of £200k was announced? How many staff walked out or resigned when this guy was in charge? How many members resigned on his watch? And why did Aifa’s useless Council just sit back and watch? Answers on a postcard please.

  20. Yes, IFAs do need a trade body. Which is why it’s such a shame Agent Gay took it away from us. What’s the point of paying to a trade body for banks and tied agents? The IFA Center is the only IFA supporter now.

  21. Lamenting AIFA’s current position is a bit rich given that you was at the helm when the damage was done.

    Your tenure was always viewed as merely a rung on the career ladder and history will not treat you kindly.

  22. When an organisation or relationship fails, it is better to give it a decent burial and move on.

    IFAs because of their disparate characters will never be able to band together now as there will be fewer of us in the future, with less influence, less money to spend on membership fees of so called representative organisations and in the final analysis, the intention of the FSA is to get rid of transactional based IFAs.


  23. From what I’ve heard and read, AIFA’s financial situation was in a decidedly parlous state when Steve Gay took over, so Chris Cummings appears not to have done a very good job on that front before jumping ship to greener pastures. If we add to that:-

    1. the FSA’s thinly veiled agenda to exterminate all transaction based IFA’s (despite Hector Sants’ tepid denial of any prejudicial agenda against small IFA’s),

    2. the FSA’s statutory untouchability (so, to any representation that it doesn’t feel like taking on board, it can simply say NO), meaning that

    3. trying to lobby and negotiate with the FSA is a waste of time, effort and money (the TSC would probably be a better target),

    4. AIFA’s lack of recourse to any higher authority,

    5. the widely disparate views and business models of the IFA community in general and

    6. the apparent lack of a robustly IFA-supporting agenda (e.g. on the issue of grandfathering),

    it’s hardly surprising that AIFA has made headway on only a few issues (there have been some) and that it’s failed to inspire the community whose interests it it purports to represent.

    We do need a representative body, but everything’s stacked against us and, for as long as the FSA retains it total lack of accountability (which the government itself has endorsed), it’s difficult to see what AIFA or any other organisation might accomplish. Merely chucking rocks at (what’s left of) AIFA for what it’s failed to achieve isn’t going to help. In fact, all it’ll do is reinforce the FSA’s view of it as just a bunch of terriers yapping at its back door.

    Other than getting the law changed by way of the creation of an Independent Regulatory Oversight Committee (which only the TSC can accomplish, and they’re certainly up against it), I don’t know what the answer might be. The IFA sector is at war with a regulator that has all the heavy artillery and all the resources to point its guns at whomsoever it pleases with apparent impunity. One thing’s for sure, though ~ divided, we are conquered.

  24. This guy was quoted making similarly crass comments in another trade journal recently. With his legacy, surely it would have been rather more politic to keep his mouth well and truly shut. Ah well. Some folk never learn.

    As for the ‘nudge’ theory bandwagon he’s jumped on, wasn’t so keen on ‘nudging’ peoply towards taking further exams and moving to fees-only was he?

  25. It is clear for all to see from this and the comments in reply

    The man is a self serving burk !

  26. Chris Cummins has absolutely no credibility whatsoever.

    He should try his hand with a new career as a stand-up Comedian!

  27. “There has never been a more important time for IFAs to have a strong representation body.”

    One word reply; GRANDFATHERING

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