View more on these topics

Independent view

In a recent Money Marketing article, an adviser commented that, in the mid 1990s, he had to “choose between the LIA and Sofa as organisations to associate with”. He chose Sofa.

I feel sorry for him and others like him in feeling this was a tough decision because it implies that one organisation is better than the other.

How do these people feel now, knowing that their “professional” Sofa is about to combine with the “salesy” LIA?

Indeed, it is noticeable that press comments by concerned members seem to come from the LIA contingent rather than Sofa. Possibly, this is because Sofa members have already decided to vote against the merger and no discussion is required? Or perhaps the deal seems to favour Sofa far more than the LIA? Or maybe, just maybe, LIA members have far more passion and commitment to ensuring that the public are better served?

I have been a happy and active member of both organisations for over 10 years and have spoken at conferences of both. It was never a choice between right and wrong, better or worse, more professional or less, but understanding the distinct offering of each organisation, taking the best from each and discarding what was not relevant.

There was no question of taking a moral high ground, only an understanding that, in order to be a good adviser, I desired a range of skills that I felt no single organisation could nurture for me.

I would hope that, to date, no one has considered me as anything less than totally professional and client-focused. So have I made a mistake in being a member of both?

I have got just as much out of each organisation in my career development and so I feel I can make an unbiased point. Fundamentally, this is because I understand and do not run shy of the fact that we are in a sales business, whereas most Sofa members, based on my personal experience, consider sales to be foul language.

At Sofa meetings, I am consistently disappointed that, whenever any subject outside technical knowledge is attempted, people have nothing to say. It is this blinkered approach and mistaken holier-than-thou stance by Sofa members that I find most disturbing and a potential threat to the success of the merger proposition. For example, why should board members be AFPC qualified?

Even though I passed my AFPC in 1992, my experience is that entrepreneurial spirit, excitement and passion drive forward organisations, not the level of qualifications possessed by the directors. It also concerns me that very many Sofa AFPC members seem like back-office types as opposed to front-line salespeople.

In my opinion, professional financial advisers also have to be good salespeople. However, the trend is to reject the fact that we are involved in a sales environment. With the emergence of more qualifications, there is growing opinion that anyone with decent technical knowledge should deny being involved in sales.

The very process of giving financial advice involves creating the opportunity to make a sale of a service or product that the client needs. Adequately identifying a client&#39s needs necessitates good interpersonal sales skills. I have always enhanced these skills through the LIA and Million Dollar Round Table, not Sofa.

Of course, good technical knowledge of product, tax, legislation or other related issues is crucial but if we cannot communicate these to a client, then what is the point? For example, many clients are left grossly underinsured because the adviser did not have the belief or passion about the subject to sell a high enough sum assured. Merely being able to recite the technical definitions will not make the client take the action that he needs to. More people take action with emotion and then justify it with logic than the other way round.

Clearly, the days have gone where sales skills alone were the only requirement for success. But advisers with only technical ability cannot survive, unable to motivate their clients into taking action, leaving them underinsured, underinvested and overeducated.

My concern is that the merger will dilute this appreciation, as it seems not to be a merger but a takeover by the CII of the LIA. I have never trusted the CII to care about our side of the insurance sector, ever since it timed exams in the first week of April, clearly not appreciating that this is traditionally our busiest time of the year. I am still not convinced that, on the proposed terms, the merger is in the best interest of both sides. And what a lousy name.

Bhupinder Anand is managing director of Anand Associates

Recommended

Ritchie exposes dangers of automatic enrolment

Automatic enrolment of new employees into occupational pensions could lead employers to seek ways of cutting contributions to reduce overall costs, warns Scottish Equitable pensions development director Stewart Ritchie. Research by the NAPF has shown that auto-enrolment typically increases employee take-up from 60 to 90 per cent. However, the chairman of the Employer Task Force […]

FSA backs IMD review

The FSA has underlined its commitment to the European Commission&#39s review of the insurance mediation directive, saying it will be standing up for greater flexibility. FSA sector manager (retail intermediaries) Paul Rich told Money Marketing that the review, scheduled for April, is important not just to help intermediaries but for the long-term state of the […]

Pension Edge: Ros Altmann

Unions are recommending that the government introduce compulsory pension saving for all employees. Such a policy change would make a bad situation even worse, prolonging the current system and postponing the required overhaul. Our pension system is not working properly, and just compelling people to put money into it will not make it work better. […]

Pension Edge: Derek Simpson

A number of recent surveys have shown that the pension deficit black hole appears to be shrinking. The recovery has occurred as shares have rallied and employers have increased their contributions to make good pension shortfalls. This is encouraging news for the future of occupational pension schemes. It demonstrates that pensions should be viewed over […]

Newsletter

News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up

Comments

    Leave a comment

    Close

    Why register with Money Marketing ?

    Providing trusted insight for professional advisers.  Since 1985 Money Marketing has helped promote and analyse the financial adviser community in the UK and continues to be the trusted industry brand for independent insight and advice.

    News & analysis delivered directly to your inbox
    Register today to receive our range of news alerts including daily and weekly briefings

    Money Marketing Events
    Be the first to hear about our industry leading conferences, awards, roundtables and more.

    Research and insight
    Take part in and see the results of Money Marketing's flagship investigations into industry trends.

    Have your say
    Only registered users can post comments. As the voice of the adviser community, our content generates robust debate. Sign up today and make your voice heard.

    Register now

    Having problems?

    Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3712

    Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am -5.00pm

    Email: customerservices@moneymarketing.com