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IFP aims to boost members by 50% by 2016

The Institute of Financial Planning is targeting an increase in membership numbers of between 50 and 100 per cent in the next two years, says IFP chief executive Steve Gazzard.

Speaking to Money Marketing at the IFP’s annual conference in Newport yesterday, Gazzard said the IFP board is aiming to raise membership from its current level of 2,000 to between 3,000 and 4,000 by the end of 2014.

He said: “That is for various reasons, including allowing us to make a bigger impact in the market and improved financial resilience.”

But he said the organisation continues to have a specific target market.

He said: “There are plenty of advisers who have worked hard to get to level 4 and have stopped there, and those who do a great job for clients but just focus on the regulatory minimum. That is fine, but that is not our target market. Our target market is those who want to maximise their professionalism as an individual and a business, and work within a financial planning model.”

Gazzard said the theme of this year’s conference is “keeping it real”, which aims to focus delegates on the core steps of financial planning.

He said: “We want to focus on doing the core things, such as building a close and trusted relationship with the client, really well.

“The other key message we would like delegates to take away is that we are still a relatively small organisation and we would like members to spread the word about what we do.”

Gazzard added the conference also aims to introduce the concept of a “financial planning gap”.

He said: “There has been a lot of talk about the advice gap, but the problem with that is advice is a one-off. The ongoing process is really important and without understanding where they are going, consumers will get knocked off track in their savings plan.

“We are in danger of focusing too much on one-off advice rather than ongoing advice, and there is a similar issue with the Government’s guidance guarantee. The move to allow consumers to access the guidance service multiple times is welcome and shows recognition among the authorities that a one-off piece of work will not solve the problem, but the problem is it is still focused on a single time period and the single issue of retirement.”

Gazzard also said he is “concerned” by negative comments about the adviser industry made recently by Money Advice Service chief executive Caroline Rookes and FCA Consumer Panel chair Sue Lewis.

He said: “I meet with Caroline regularly and I know she is committed to building better links with advisers. I have spoken to her since the comments were made, because I was disturbed by it, but she has reassured me it was just poor use of language in reaction to a question and I think that was sincere.

“I would be concerned if that was the MAS’ held view, and I do not think it is good to have those quotes around, for building a trusted relationship between the MAS and advisers.

“I am concerned about the Consumer Panel quotes because if the panel does not see that the industry has changed as a result of the RDR, then they are seeing different things to me.

“If people who are knowledgeable about the industry are making negative comments in properly formed statements we have to be really concerned and take another look at ourselves and ask what we need to do differently. If advisers have a tick box mentality and only aim to do the minimum, then that is not going to do us any favours as an industry.”


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