Despite constant predictions of doom and gloom for the independent sector, the number of IFAs has increased by 29 per cent over the last year to 36,365 from 28,230.
The latest figures from the FSA reveal IFAs make up 44 per cent of the total of 82,958 financial advisers in the UK. Direct salesforces represent the other 56 per cent or 46,593 advisers.
The new total gives a welcome boost to the beleaguered IFA sector which has had to overcome several major challenges threatening its livelihood in recent years.
IFAs have been faced with changes to polarisation, charging caps under stakeholder pensions and Catmarked products, the pension and FSAVC misselling reviews, the endowment crisis and challenges posed by the internet.
While IFAs continue to grow in number, direct salesforces have shrunk significantly with the sale of the Lincoln and Royal & Sun Alliance salesforces as well as the closure of the Prudential, Sun Life Financial of Canada and Britannic salesforces which have seen 5,000 sales staff axed.
Sofa director Jo Smith says: “There has been an awful lot of turnover from the direct side to the IFA sector. We now have to raise the standard of these new IFAs in terms of training so they can face the next onslaught against the sector which is depolarisation.”
DBS sales and marketing director Mark Summerfield says: “This is great news for the IFA sector, great news for the consumer and great news for the industry.”