It has been interesting to read letters in Money Marketing about the proposed merger between Sofa and the LIA. It was suggested in one of the letters that size is not that important when it comes to representation. I just do not accept that size is not a factor. If any association is able to unify representation in its sector, provided that it presents cogent and well argued views and solutions, it is likely to have far more influence than a multiplicity of competing voices.
It is said in another letter that a “blessing” from the Treasury and the FSA is almost “a kiss of death”. That depends entirely on your point of view. If the view is taken that representational organisations should not engage with those they are trying to influence but merely sit apart from them and snipe at them, then I can see some point to the argument. But surely most gains are made by constructive dialogue? I am aware that the adviser community is extremely cynical about these behind-the-scenes discussions and I have frequently heard the comment that various bodies which are working closely with the Treasury, the Inland Revenue and the FSA achieve nothing.
One old chestnut which has reared its head is the suggestion that the LIA is an organisation for tied salespeople. That might have been true in the 1970s but it has not been true for the last 25 years. In fact, over two-thirds of our members are IFAs. Sofa and the LIA are so alike in their make-up and objectives that they are a natural fit.
I am amazed at the implication that the LIA is not a body concerned about qualifications. If you look at the history, you will see that the LIA was promoting financial services qualifications long before the FPC was even a gleam in anyone's eye. The LIA position publicly has been for many years to support standards of knowledge and conduct. This was, of course, the centrepiece of our announcement (supported almost unanimously by the membership) earlier this year to change the LIA to a professional body.
I detect a lot of angst about the CII. I think it is fair comment to say that the work that has taken place since Sandy Scott was appointed has repositioned the CII quite significantly in terms of its support for practitioner standards. If there are prejudices about the CII (or indeed LIA and Sofa) I would invite those concerned to look at the facts.
John Ellis is public affairs director at the LIA