It seems every couple of months we get another blueprint for the future of the IFA market. The amount and scope of these plans is always amazing, as no one actually knows what will be the result of the FSA's Treasury-influenced second-stage review of polarisation, which could throw even the best laid plans into disarray although many of us could probably hazard a guess.
The latest plans for survival in the new era, dominated by increasingly squeezed margins, are to move upmarket into wealth management in the case of national IFA Lighthouse while rival national the Millfield Group is launching a new division which actively seeks to buy a stake in smaller IFAs, gradually increasing this stake over time. In return, the IFA becomes an equity partner in the group.
By positioning itself as a wealth manager, Lighthouse says it wishes to play ball with the big boys such as the Merrill Lynch by targeting higher-net-worth customers and offering corporate packages to businesses. But is there actually anything new in this strategy? Surely this is the market many IFAs have been targeting for some years?
Millfield's blueprint appears more innovative and is aimed at helping smaller IFAs survive the upheaval of stakeholder and the potential changes to polarisation.
Millfield appears to have learnt from the mistakes of others and believes this initiative will help it avoid the pitfalls of potentially buying a firm with a massive pension misselling black hole. Only time will tell if either of these blueprints work. The only thing that is certain is these will definitely not be the last blueprint's for IFA survival.