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Garry Heath: Professional bodies should not be lobbying for advisers


There seems to be widespread and potentially damaging confusion among advisers about the difference between a professional body and a trade association.

Professional bodies exist to improve the professional standards of their members. They set exam subjects and levels of excellence, and distribute learning materials. Crucially, every member is an individual. In contrast, the members of trade associations are businesses. Trade associations deal with the commercial needs of their member firms.

Unlike professional bodies, trade associations are animated by regulation, costs, supplier relationships and systems. Therefore, it is trade associations that lobby regulators, ministers, parliament and the European Union, not professional bodies.

Indeed, professional bodies tell me they get frustrated at being asked to lobby when they are not set up to do so. Doctors and lawyers try to do both but they have the Government as their major professional employer through the NHS and Legal Aid.

We do not. The big prize would be to lever the regulation of advisers away from the FCA and towards a professional body. That will be a long-term job requiring real sector unity but it would make sense to everyone without a vested interest in the current regime.

Meanwhile, it seems there are some that fear regulatory retribution if they join Libertatem.

Perhaps this speaks of the hostage mentality that seems to pervade some advisers. But it is nonsense. The regulator will not know the identity of members: that is confidential and will remain so.

Garry Heath is director general at Libertatem



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There are 3 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Odd isn’t it that Gary doesn’t seem to recognise that many (if not most) business owners are first and foremost advisers. I also notice that the professional bodies do engage with many of the topics that Gary lists and seem to do so in a diplomatic way that occasionally gets results. From what I have seen it also appears that the regulators and legislators seem to engage with the professional bodies more willingly than the trade bodies.

    And of course, finally, all advisers HAVE to join a professional body in order to attain their mandatory SPS. No one has to join a trade body. As I have and others have said so many times in the past, why can’t we have the sort of professional body that exists for accountants and solicitors? Why do we have to have this doubling up that just generates further expense and in the end doesn’t achieve, in the main, what it sets out to do anyway ?

  2. I tend to agree with Garry on this;

    I think it is fair to say, the spans of control is far to great for the regulator, and it tries to combat this with a broad brush, and IMHO fails, as they argue we interpret the rules incorrectly, when there is wide spread confusion; the bad continually slip the net, and when the FCA finally do catch up the problems have snowballed. also I have read recently it is taking 6 MONTHS for some to get authorized which is totally unacceptable.
    We have an unfit regulator for unfit regulations, its to expensive, ill-equipped,and ignorant to the integral workings, and needs of individuals be that consumer or adviser.

  3. Julian Stevens 16th June 2016 at 1:27 pm

    If this is a pop at the PFS, Garry, I think you’re overlooking the considerable value of Keith Richards’ lobbying skills.

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