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Message missionary

When the FSA asked IFAs for feedback on its first depolarisation consultation (CP80), just 37 firms bothered to put pen to paper.

This time round more is at stake and it is no good complaining about it if you are not prepared to make your thoughts known.

Sofa has written an independent guide on how to get your views across. Nobody else is going to stand up for you if you are not prepared to do it for yourself.

Since January, the news and letters pages have been full of CP121. It has occupied Sofa conferences and meetings – and possibly even your Friday night after-work drinking sessions.

Trade associations will argue that “independent is best” and, frankly, few would disagree with the theory at least. Of course, the big distributors have an agenda but it is hardly “hidden” that they want to sell more of their own products.

The regulator realises this and has asked quite pointedly for feedback, research and opinion from those on the front line of financial advice.

We all want an open and honest industry with plenty of choice for consumers and we want it to be accessible – but also commercial and competitive. Consumers have to understand the products they are buying and the people who advise on them. It is important that this is achieved within a workable framework.

By its very nature CP121 poses a lot of questions. Some are common sense, some complex and some may probe into the very heart of these proposals and the logic on which they have been based.

No doubt too there are questions that have not been asked that many would like to add and to have answered. No matter who you are, where you work or whether you are tied or independent, your views are important and should be heard.

To help our members, and indeed anyone who would like to respond to CP121, we have prepared an independent and impartial guide to responding to CP121 with Supply Media, which specialises in advising IFAs in the media eye.

As I am sure you are only too well aware, the financial advisory industry (tied, independent or otherwise) has a poor lobbying track record. With no single body representing all interested parties, consensus has proved elusive.

As the FSA itself said in its summary of the feedback it received to CP80, just 37 IFA firms respon-ded directly. That is 37 out of a total of 4,000 or less than 1 per cent.

Several advisers, some just single-person practices, have been able to articulate their opinions in highly influential articles. How did they do this? They simply got involved.

So how do you go about making a response? Dec-ide what you want to comment on, what evidence you have to back your case and your reasons why.

In fact, it is the same as making your investment recommendations. Just think of the FSA as a very demanding, detail-orien-ted client.

The Sofa/Supply Media guide has all the background, links to research and planning support you will need to get started.

Just for the record, here are some of Sofa&#39s concerns – will the “tied to independent and all points in between” structure be understood and what skills, continued training and experience will be required for each?

Will the public understand and will they value the weighty demands on those who aspire to be at the top of the tree?

We cannot predict the outcome of the consultation but one thing is certain, if you do not express your views, they will never get heard. Just remember to make your opinions known on time.

April 19 is the crucial day because, no matter how eloquent your argument, the FSA probably will not read your response to CP121 if it is late.

The Sofa/Supply Media guide is being mailed to all Sofa members. If you would like a free copy, email your name, company name and address to


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