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IFA fortunes take a turn for the better

Last week was the best for IFAs in years, according to Scottish Life&#39s long-standing commentator Alasdair Buchanan.

Before cracking open the Bollinger, the question remains, is this a sea-change or a brief respite from the bad news? Either way, there is definitely something to cheer.

Treasury economic secretary Ruth Kelly said IFAs are crucial and critical to the future of financial services. The head of the polarisation review, David Severn, has indicated a preference for a limited reform involving gap-filling and is wary of full-blown multi-ties. The Faculty and Insti-tute of Actuaries argued that if Equitable had sold through IFAs, it might have been forced to meet its competition head on.

Responding to Sandler&#39s review, an alli-ance of six trade bodies, including the ABI and Autif, warned advice should not be sidelined. Giants such as NU and Fidelilty placed themselves at the forefront of the IFA defence while most Sandler submiss-ions, including the Consumers&#39 Associat-ion&#39s, backed independents. Of course, Sandler may spring surprises on polarisation and commission. There will be some at the regulator and the Treasury who want multities and Aifa director general Paul Smee has rightly sounded a note of caution.

With-profits is still embroiled in crisis, life office financial strength is a massive concern and who knows what the bears have in store for the markets and the next Isa season. There are also many challenges being thrown down to IFAs from the Government. Advisers must try and meet the Government halfway over the financially disadvantaged. But on balance we think and we hope that the fortunes of IFAs have taken a turn for the better. Champagne? Perhaps a glass. But don&#39t book the Savoy ballroom just yet.

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