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Heath says IFAs need a new name

The phrase “independent financial adviser” may need to be changed to increase clarity among consumers, according to former IFA Association director general Garry Heath.

Heath, director of Portfolio Members Services, says polarisation underpins the status of IFAs and if polarisation is scrapped, it could be time to redefine the territory to send a clear message to clients.

He says: “Most IFAs are wrong to believe the word &#39independent&#39 attached to &#39financial&#39 and &#39adviser&#39 gives the client a clear picture of a profession whose only aim is to act on behalf of his client, researching the market to find the best solutions.”

Heath says this view is far from this reality and, for many consumers, “independent” equals small, pushy,lightweight and cavalier.

He also points to an IFA Promotion survey late last year which found 33 per cent of respondents said the main attribute associated with IFAs is they sell products which earn them the most commission.

But IFAP chief executive David Elms says: “It is dangerous to judge public awareness by looking at the term IFA in isolation. When the term is used along with Ifap branding, most UK adults understand the meaning.”

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