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Important message

In his enthusiasm to make his weekly column suitably thought-provoking, Nic Cicutti betrays a sorry lack of understanding of what differentiates the multi-tied agent from the true IFA, regardless of how the latter is remunerated.

Virtually none of the public

know or care about Aifa. It is just a trade body which IFAs rely on to argue their causes and grievances to the regulator (and heaven knows we need such a body).

Most clients have no interest in either trade bodies or depolarisation (although they most certainly should understand the significance of the latter). Their principal concerns are whether or not they can understand the advice they receive, rely on the quality of that advice and whether or not its cost represents value for money, however they are required to pay for it.

What a good IFA does, that in most circumstances the multi-tied agent never can (or wants to), is advise clients on the products they already have and what best to do with them for the future in the context of an overall financial planning strategy.

For all the reasons that need not be reiterated here, like most IFAs, the number of providers whose products we recommend is quite small. But, like most IFAs, the range of providers with which we have dealings on behalf of clients who need advice and guidance on what they already have is very wide.

Advisers provide advice. Agents sell. In the new, depolarised world, that is the most important message we need to communicate to our clients.

Julian Stevens WDS IFAs, Bristol

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