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Gill Cardy: Why I’m getting behind Apfa

Former IFA Centre managing director Gill Cardy has joined Apfa following the closure of IFA Centre in December.

The IFA Centre announced it would cease to operate as a trade body last month after failing to secure enough members. It will still operate as a not-for-profit body.

It was set up by Former Professional Partnerships principal Cardy in September 2011 as a trade body purely for independent advisers in an effort to rival Aifa, as it was then known.

Cardy argued there was a need for a body to solely represent IFAs’ interests after Aifa formally rebranded as the Association of Professional Financial Advisers in November 2011 and began accepting restricted advisers as members.

Following the closure of the IFA Centre, advisers were urged to unite behind Apfa to strengthen the voice of the industry.

Cardy, who has taken up a new role as network development director at IFA network ValidPath, says the fact a body for independent advisers no longer exists is no reason to “do nothing” in getting the voice of the industry heard.

She told Money Marketing: “I belonged to Aifa when I had my own business and if it is now the only organisation representing advisers of any description then it needs advisers to join.

“I remain convinced that independent advisers need a voice, and that there will be occasions when the interests of IFAs diverge from those of advisers in general.

“But the fact that there is now not a specific voice for independent advisers is no reason for me to copy other advisers and do absolutely nothing about getting our voice heard.”

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  1. Opinions vary, of course, but increasing numbers of intermediaries have decided that meeting the requirements of WoM independence, both initially and on an ongoing basis, has become so onerous that the IFA moniker is no longer worth clinging to. What proportion of (former) IFA’s were ever interested in trying to keep abreast of things like EIS’s, VCT’s, hedge funds, ETF’s and so on, or constantly having to reassess whether or not their favoured platform is still best of breed? If it does the job and delivers the goods, then so what if another platform (such as that of Aviva) comes along with an obviously loss-leading pricing structure that probably isn’t commercially sustainable in the long term? Are clients really bothered about having their portfolios shunted from one platform to another every few years just to save 0.2% p.a. on the charges? I suggest not. And there’s a cost to all the work involved, for which either the client has to pay or the IFA has, somehow or other, to absorb. It just isn’t worth all the hassle.

    The ever-burgeoning success of SJP confirms the view that the public don’t actually care about independence that much, if at all. Setting aside questions over how openly and transparently (or otherwise) SJP partners (for example) present their proposition and costs and the fact that they seem merely to operate adviser charging scales that are just commission by a different name, I still hold to the view that all the public are really interested in is Proposition, Costs, Risks and Tax. SJP have realised this, taken full advantage and are reaping the benefits of so doing, backed by excellent marketing. Their products may not be very competitively priced, their fund range appears to be a decidedly mixed bag and many examples of less than stellar standards of advice have been cited. Yet, for all that, SJP is hugely successful, it doesn’t seem to have any major issues with the regulator and continues to go from strength to strength.

    So, in the current world, what hope could there be for a purely IFA trade body? I hope that Gill is able to bring some new and practical dynamism to APFA and that she can add to its agenda such issues as pressing for the creation of an Independent Regulatory Oversight Committee to bring some balance, reason and accountability to the way in which the regulator operates.

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