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Discount club

Having fallen off the radar of the retail distribution review, firms in the non-advised sales sector have grouped together to form a new trade body.

The Association of Independent Discount Brokers comprises eight groups, including Willis Owen and Chelsea Financial Services.

The remit of the trade body is, first, to represent the views of discount brokers to the FSA, second, to the fund groups and platforms and finally, to the general public.

The AIDB is concerned that the RDR has largely over-looked the non-advised sales sector despite inviting comment on remuneration structures.

The trade body, which also comprises Financial Discounts Direct, Garrison, Allenbridge, Fundsnet, Isa Limited and Dennehy Weller, finds the FSA’s decision to leave their part of the market largely untouched hard to believe, given the fact that about 20 per cent of all fund sales come through this channel.

All groups that offer a non-advised sales portion to their business have been invited to join the trade body. Hargreaves Lansdown has declined on the grounds that it is already on the UK Platform Group, which most of its business travels through, while Bestinvest believes now is not an appropriate time for it to join.

The association plans to make a response to the RDR consultation paper ahead of the October 30 deadline.

Chelsea Financial Services managing director Darius McDermott, who is the acting chairman of the AIDB, says: “The RDR has been the catalyst. It will change the future of financial services and we want to be on the ground floor and be certain that we know how our business operates after 2012.”

Dennehy Weller managing director Brian Dennehy says: “The RDR has a lot of issues, such as how it relates to platform, how fund groups will apply their fees and how regulations will operate in practice. I would not say I have specific goals for the trade body but it is important that we as a segment of the market have a dialogue.”

Financial Discounts Direct managing director Paul Penny, who is acting secretary, says the trade body has had backing from fund groups and platforms.

He says: “The idea was conceived at a meeting at Cofunds offices and they were supportive of it.”

Penny says it will take issue with some long- term problems in the industry, such as platform to platform re-registration.

Cofunds marketing and proposition director Alistair Conway says: “We have had three sessions with these groups to talk about market development and it appears that the RDR is short on content with regards to execution-only businesses. We are supportive of what they are doing and we hope they continue to get as many members as possible so they can have as big a voice as possible to talk to the regulator.”

Fidelity head of UK retail Peter Hicks says: “I think there is nothing wrong with a number of groups with similar business models coming together as they need a voice to represent themselves to the FSA, which has said it would welcome general responses from different segments in the market.

“The RDR has missed this among other sectors such as platforms and, to an extent, wealth managers. But it is right that these groups have questions, given that their combined assets form a pretty big sector in the market.”

The Association of IFAs says it is not threatened by a new trade body voice in the industry. Director Rob Sinclair says: “Aifa is a well recognised trade body to help consumers but if there are other areas, such as execution-only, that have their own interests, they should ensure they are well represented.”


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