One of my favourite movies is Lawrence of Arabia. At the end of the film, having rid themselves of their Ottoman Turk colonial masters, the Arabs set about fighting amongst themselves. Meanwhile their next set of colonial masters, the British and the French, are waiting and scheming in the wings.
There are innumerable historical parallels. The Romans sought friendly tribes to play off against the less friendly tribe and they found them here in Britain. In Africa, one tribe sold out another to slave traders. Likewise the native Americans.
It is therefore with a weary sense of déjà-vu and a certain amount of despair, that I see some of our colleagues determined to perpetuate the independent versus restricted schism which the FSA has so cleverly generated.
Added to all this is the propensity of a large number of our colleagues to sit carping on the sidelines about what they see as APFA’s failures, without ever lifting so much as a finger to contribute to it’s success.
Every time another regulatory outrage is perpetrated, every time the FSA or FSCS issues another demand for money and every time they tighten the screw to restrict advisers trying to run their own businesses, there is a chorus in the blogs blaming APFA for supposedly doing nothing.
The plain reality is that APFA does as much as it can with the resources it has available. But the resource it really needs, the membership of every single adviser in the business, is denied to it by those very same people who will not put their hands in their pockets for the paltry subscriptions asked.
The fact is that freedom is not free. Until every adviser is prepared to sacrifice a couple of hundred pounds a year they will continue to get the representation they deserve in place of the representation they need.
When they deserve better – when they are prepared to pay for it – then they will have it, and then the regulator will be the one on the defensive.
Broadly speaking advisers are not the sort of people naturally given to trade union activity.
That is, however, precisely how advisers need to start thinking. If ever a profession needed a strong union it is ours.
The axis of a cowardly Government, capricious regulators and a predatory claims culture is a formidable adversary. If we carry on as we are we will end up like the ancient Britons, the tribes of Africa and the American Indians.
It is long past the time to realise that if we all go our own way, we will all go the same way.
Neil Liversidge is managing director at West Riding Personal Financial Solutions