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LIA’s view

This is the last article I shall write for Money Marketing before the Personal Finance Society comes into being on January 1. It is an interesting time of transition for both the LIA (32 years old) and Sofa (12 years old).

Both organisations have done sterling work in representing members.
But with the way legislation and regulation are moving, we need a
more powerful professional grouping to represent all those engaged in
retail investment, mortgage and general insurance advice. It made
sense to bring the two together and put the new body within the CII
group, bearing in mind its position in the general insurance market.

At the start of next year, all LIA and Sofa members will be
transferred to the Personal Finance Society. They need to sign up to
the membership rules before they are awarded their designatory
letters under the structure we have put in place by reference to CII
exams and the National Qualifications Framework. If we can achieve
all that in January, plus issuing a new magazine, Financial
Solutions, we will have achieved a great deal. Shortly after, there
will be a new website.

In January, we will be consulting members on the creation of two
faculties – one for personal financial planning and the other for
corporate financial planning. Further consultation has already
started on the regional structure of the Personal Finance Society.
Regional meetings and other events that had already been planned by
the LIA and Sofa for the first part of next year will be rebranded
under the Personal Finance Society. A new regional structure for the
new body will follow, probably in the second quarter of 2005.
Members’ views are being sought on the form of this new structure and
they will be fully taken into account before it is finalised. It is
likely that we will be publishing information about all these items
in January or February.

In the second quarter of 2005, we intend to start the process of
attracting new members. It has always been a source of some
puzzlement that most people in the financial advice market have never
seen fit to become permanent members of their professional
association. We need to make sure that the Personal Finance Society
attracts their commitment. We will start with over 25,000 members but
I would hope to see that number rise steadily. No extravagant
promises are being made but we need to move to a dominant position in
the sector and that will receive our concerted attention.

If all goes according to plan, a consumer outreach programme will
begin later next year. It is important for consumers to see
membership of the Personal Finance Society as an indicator of
quality. Once that starts to happen, member recruitment should be
much easier because advisers will wish to have the Personal Finance
Society label to help their businesses grow. Already there are signs
that the media are interested in a body positioned with a name which
their readers will recognise. We will be judged by our actions and
much remains to be done. But let us stop for a moment on January 1
and remember that the single professional body, called for by many over
the years, is at last a reality.

John Ellis is public affairs director at the LIA



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