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MM Profile: Alan Lakey on Apfa and the long-stop

Alan Lakey 480 Index

Alan Lakey is well known to Money Marketing readers as a highly opinionated columnist and protection specialist. He has spent many years fighting for the re-introduction of a 15-year long-stop and has regularly spoken out on behalf of advisers on a range of regulatory issues.

Lakey has worked within the finance industry for more than 34 years, starting out as a home service agent for United Friendly, becoming a senior consultant for Legal & General and gradually working his way up in the sector to become partner in Highclere Financial services in 1991.

In 2009 Lakey helped form Adviser Alliance, a lobby group aimed at pushing a number of specific issues, such as the long-stop and opposition to the RDR. Lakey was previously chairman of the now defunct IFA Defence Union but quit over differences of opinion over how the body should be run.

Although Lakey is still a director of Adviser Alliance he has recently joined the Association of Professional Financial Advisers, formerly the Association of Independent Financial Advisers, as a council member. Lakey was voted on to the council at Apfa’s AGM earlier this month.

The move was a surprise to many in the industry as he has been far from shy in his public attacks on Aifa in recent years. “Aifa may have good intentions but it is often perceived to be more bark than bite,” he said back in 2010.

Lakey had been approached a number of times to become an Aifa council member but refused due to a clash of views, particularly with former director general Chris Cummings. After a meeting with Cummings in 2007, which he says was to distinguish any common ground between Adviser Alliance and Aifa, Lakey was left disappointed.

“It was easier just to not be a part of the show and just do your own thing. I could not be within a body that had views completely opposite to my own.”

So why the change of heart now?

Lakey reveals that Apfa director Neil Liversidge was “instrumental” in getting him on board. He says he believes Apfa is now heading in the right direction after changes such as the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries becoming a separate, independent organisation.

“I found Liversidge had very similar views to myself. His opinions and mine were pretty much in tangent.

“I felt that if there ever was a time that Apfa could become the body that I’ve always thought it should be then it’s over the next year or two.”

So now Lakey is on board with Apfa, what does he hope to achieve?

He makes it clear that re-introducing the long-stop is his number one priority.

“I have been pushing this for six years on a personal level and I will keep on because it is something that is absolutely required.

“And if there was one thing I wish I could change which would influence every other thing, it is that the FCA is not accountable to anyone. There are no checks, and no penalties for bad regulators. There has to be accountability, personal as well as corporate.”

With the RDR only a matter of weeks away, Lakey says it is too late to make any changes now. But that does not mean he will stop pointing out its flaws and push for further reform.

“There’s nothing worse to me than having an opinion, doing nothing about it then moaning about the outcome.

“I understand why people do that but unfortunately it doesn’t make it any easier for the rest of us because it’s evident to me that the vast majority of advisers out there lament the fact the RDR is coming.”

Lakey believes that eventually, the majority of the IFA industry will become restricted, something Lakey suggests is not necessarily a negative thing.

“The only negative is that I can’t use the word independent. It will save me having to jump through some of the foolish hoops the FSA are making independent people do.”

The industry has seen a reduction in the number of investment advisers in recent years and Lakey believes this will continue post-RDR.

“The FSA are like school bullies in that they will come and steal your pocket money, punch you on the nose and the next week they will come back and do it again. The only way to deal with that is leave the school, which some people are doing as they are leaving the industry.”

Lakey says he has no intention of watering down his criticisms of the regulator in his role as Apfa council member.

“There are many advisers out there who have got opinions but are scared to out their opinions out there and are scared by retaliation from the regulator. That has never worried me, I am quite happy to say what I think and I think the views that I hold are sensible views.

“I am hoping that my views, which I believe are in alignment with a number of other committee members, can help shape the future of Apfa and make it a better representative body.”

Lakey is also a prominent protection specialist and last year launched a critical illness website for advisers, CI Expert.

The site provides important resources for advisers in exchange for a membership fee. It provides a description of definitions within the critical illness sector, as well as a historical database, incident figures and claims statistics for all 15 main providers and allows advisers to make comparisons between companies based on a score that the system provides.

Lakey was inspired to set up the site about five years ago after noticing a lack of ability for advisers to gain access to accurate figures. Between 2008 and 2010, he spent time researching various charities and building up contacts within the medical profession to gain a greater insight into the critical illness industry.

“I was shocked when reading an article a few years back that said 63 per cent of advisers choose a critical illness plan based on price. It is something that should have been around years ago.”

Alan Lakey 200

Born: London

Lives: Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire

Education: Bourne Valley Comprehensive and Dacorum College

Career: 1978-79, United Friendly home service agent; 1979-80, AA Insurance Services regional officer; 1981-85, Winterthur Life senior consultant; 1985-86, Legal & General senior consultant; 1986, DAB Financial Services partner; 1991, Highclere Financial Services partner; 2009, Adviser Alliance founder, March 2012, CI Expert founder; November 2012, Apfa council member

Likes: Fairness and balance, interesting people and good music

Dislikes: Political correctness and the impact of bad regulation

Drives: Honda Civic

Book: Eyes of the Overworld by Jack Vance

Films: From Dusk Till Dawn and Pitch Black

Album: Parachute by the Pretty Things

Career Ambition: Restoration of balance in financial services and CI Expert to be sufficiently successful

Life ambition: Happiness

If I wasn’t doing this I would be…making music

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