As many may know I was for many years a member of the Aifa council. Once it dropped the ‘i’ and the promised collegiate approach did not materialise I felt it right to resign my position, but remain a member.
So I was a member for 2013 – Apfa’s first year. My membership renewal invitation arrived by email on 28 December. The invoice was dated 1 January, a bank Holiday. I rather thought this smacked of cash flow desperation.
My irritation was compounded when I saw the amount they wanted me to pay. Bear in mind I am a sole trader – the charge is £351.00. I would point out this is 25 per cent more than the Institute of Financial Planning subscription which covers my CFP licence and my statement of professional standing within the price. The Apfa price is the same as for my membership with the Institute of Directors.
It is not the amount of the subscription that annoys, but the fact that a sole trader within a network pays some 70 per cent less. I know money talks and that bulk purchases qualify for discounts, but this is an issue I have harped on about for years and during my tenure on the council.
It is evident the networks refuse point blank to ask their members to pay an economic amount. It is also evident that Apfa has its hands tied. It also seems logical to assume it does not have that many individual members. In which case one wonders why they cannot lower the bill for the few while being funded by the many?
It yet again highlights one of my pet ‘bleats’. It is evident (as it has been for quite some time) that Apfa runs at the behest of the big players. Not only as far as fees are concerned, but policy as well. It is more than apparent that, for example, the long-stop is far more to the benefit of a network than a sole trader who can probably get run-off cover. The matter of fee refunds (a very current topic), while pleasant for a small IFA, is far more significant for a network. The examples are numerous and I won’t bore you, or irritate Apfa, with a long list.
So you may well ask why I have renewed my membership. Well for me there are two reasons:
1. I do find the ‘heads up’ and guidance regarding regulation and compliance very useful indeed and the subscription is a jolly sight more economical than a compliance consultant.
2. I have always believed that in these matters it is more honest to criticise from within than do so from outside. So I have bought my ticket to moan for another year! Watch this space!
Harry Katz is principal at Norwest Consultants