View more on these topics

Lee Robertson: Infighting means we are divided and conquered


The phrase “divide and conquer” has been attributed to many different people over time, including kings, emperors and other historic figures.

The strategy has long been used by those in or seeking power to encourage divisions among subjects or opposing forces by fostering distrust. It is also used to encourage meaningless expenditure to reduce the capacity for action or progress.

You might be asking where I am going with this. Well, rather than being on the receiving end of some malevolent outside force, I really do wonder if we are inflicting this strategy upon ourselves.

Daniel Godfrey’s dramatic departure from the Investment Association has got me thinking about the future of our trade and professional bodies.

There are so many that we are, arguably, ridiculously over served by organisations which do not really complement (or compliment) each other. They struggle to convince us they really do stand for their members or the consumer, or both.

On top of this, there seems to be a merry-go-round of high-profile departures, from life companies from the Association of British Insurers to the aforementioned Godfrey. There are also real issues with support and viability for adviser trade bodies.

For example, Apfa appears to be struggling to attract and retain members, while Gill Cardy’s admirable attempt to stand up for the adviser with the Adviser Centre failed to garner enough support to really get going.

These bodies appear to be struggling with the friction inevitably caused by attempting to serve many competing members and deliver the transparencies and benefits the investing public needs. Trying to unravel the proverbial Gordian knot that is lobbying the Government and the regulators on behalf of so many vested interests must be extremely difficult to say the least.

For once, I am going to give the banking sector a bit of a backhanded compliment. The British Bankers’ Association seems to make real headway. It too has lots of different members with competing business styles and approaches to its operational objectives; however, it appears to be able to marshal members effectively and deliver benefits and progress.

It might just be time for our infighting and (sometimes very obvious) attempts to protect vested interests to diminish dramatically for the greater good.

I suspect as long as we advisers, fund managers, platform providers and insurers remain, pretty much by our own choice, splintered and divided, we are ripe to be ruled and conquered.

A strong voice speaking on behalf of the collective appears to carry much more weight with the Treasury and the regulator than what we currently have to offer.

Lee Robertson is chief executive of Investment Quorum



Death of the trade body? Provider lobby groups reach crisis point

The Big Three trade bodies for savings and investment have reached a “turning point” and must act quickly to guarantee their survival, experts warn. Investment Association chief executive Daniel Godfrey’s sudden departure, Aegon quitting the Association of British Insurers and the impact of the pension freedoms on the National Association of Pension Funds has cast uncertainty over the […]


Nic Cicutti: Daniel Godfrey’s exit fuels mistrust of fund groups

One of the first things people assume about financial journalists is that we love to go out on a ‘freebie’ every night of the week. There are some of us like that, to be sure – and I like a good drink as much as the next person. But speaking purely personally, after 10 or […]

Investment Association chief executive Daniel Godfrey exits

Investment Association chief executive Daniel Godfrey is leaving the trade body after a flurry of asset managers said they were considering quitting the association. A source close to the situation said Godfrey was departing “by mutual agreement” with the board, as “collectively they felt a new leader was needed at this time”. An interim chief […]


Death or fortune: What does the future hold for Apfa?

Apfa is “on the brink” after losing tens of thousands of pounds in income through the departure of two of its biggest members. Last week Openwork announced it is leaving Apfa with immediate effect and its chief executive Mark Duckworth will step down from Apfa’s board. Sesame is also due to leave the trade body […]


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


There is one comment at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Odd isn’t it that the PFS/CII has no such problems and the eminently sensible IFP has now merged with CISI – who also seem to be robust. Yes, these are professional bodies and not ‘pure’ trade bodies. But why is it that we have to have a separation? The solicitors don’t nor do the accountants.

    But we have far too many vested interests and the big boys always seem to want to run the show. The little guys on the other hand seem to have wallets that are only on ‘receive’. Then of course there is the vexed question of the differentiation in the advice sector. True independents naturally want their corner robustly defended, which is not necessarily in the best interest of the others.

    Finally there is no real imperative to join a trade body. A professional body issue SPS which is a ‘must have’ – so they are fairly secure. The Trade Bodies have no such USP. Non joiners tend to benefit (if there is any benefit at all) just as much as those who pay their subscriptions. This is not a great business model.

Leave a comment