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Independent view

Spending nearly three whole days surrounded by hundreds of IFAs and

product providers on board a ship floating in the middle of nowhere does

not sound like too much fun.

However, I steeled myself for the task, packed my best bib and tucker and

arrived at Southampton docks on a sunny Sunday afternoon in time for tea on

the Oriana.

For those who have never been on PIMS or have never heard of PIMS, let me

explain. The idea of the event is to meet as many people as you can as well

as attend seminars, think-tank sessions and conferences.

Before the event, product providers express a preference over who they

want to meet and by using the latest technology you express your

preferences as well.

It sounds a bit like some gameshow but the technology works and you end up

with lots of 25-minute sessions on a one-to-one basis as well as sharing

breakfast, lunch and dinner with different product prov-iders and IFAs.

To give you an idea of the range of attendees, I started off having

breakfast on the first day with a London stockbroking firm and ended up

having dinner on the last night with the FSA. I suspect that is an

opportunity that will not occur too often.

In between, I met with technology representatives, life company

representatives, consulting actuaries, investment managers… the list goes

on. While exhausting, I found the diversity of people far more stimulating

than just meeting life company representatives, which used to be the

original format. I even shared a table with an IFA who had flown over from

Malaysia. He went abroad some eight years ago having previously been a

journalist and now runs a salesforce of 25 consultants.

I also attended a whole range of seminars, which varied substantially in

content and quality. Not everything lives up to our different expectations,

which is why I was pleased to see the organisers provided feedback forms

which I duly completed.

At these events you come away with a strong feeling of what the major

concerns are. I can remember issues such as the pension review, regulation,

the recession, financial scandals all being important landmarks that

affected us all.

This year, however, the concerns seemed to be around polarisation, with

the greatest concern coming not from the IFAs but the product providers.

This is entirely understandable because now that most direct salesforces

have hung up their boots, product providers are even more dependent on the

ever-growing market share from independent advisers. Apparently, there are

more than 10 different scenarios being seriously discussed any one of

which, if implemented, could seriously affect a company&#39s market share.

Unfortunately, no one seems to have a clue what is going to happen except

that most are concerned that multi-ties will become a reality. Conversely,

not one person could explain how a multi-tie would work, which leads me to

believe it probably will not happen.

As an IFA that specialises in investment, I have never been able to see

how a multi-tie would work for us especially as we recommend such a spread

of investment funds.

Therefore, maybe it is the life companies that become multi-tied as they

introduce more and more fund managers to their product ranges.

When that happens, the fund management companies will stop promoting their

funds directly to the IFA and we will only access their funds via the life

companies or the fund supermarkets. Taking that scenario to its logical

conclusion then, any IFA that is investment-oriented may only have to deal

through one source that provides the technology for all the wrappers and

all the funds. Maybe that is what they mean by multi-tied?

Steve Kelland, chairman and chief executive, Burns-Anderson Independent



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