IFA Portfolio is claiming that its members are writing more business than the top 11 networks combined, provoking a furious response from the networks.
An internal Portfolio document, obtained by Money Marketing, estimates that its 2,460 member firms took a total of £463.7m in commission in 1997.
This compares with an estimated £438.6m in commission written by the top 11 networks, including DBS, Countrywide, M&E, Financial Options and Kestrel.
But the networks have attacked Portfolio, questioning the figures' reliability and Portfolio's reasons for producing them.
The figures are based on a survey of Portfolio's members sent out in 1997. Around 15 per cent responded. The commission levels were extrapolated to give an overall figure for the current membership.
The network figures are calculated from current marketing and ad campaigns by the top 11 networks.
The document shows that Portfolio's average commission per firm is 88 per cent higher than the networks at £186,995 against £99,338.
Portfolio managing director Mike Owen defends the figures as a "statistically sound sample". He says: "We are often perceived as a small-firm organisation but 14 per cent of member firms have between five and 10 RIs. We are not the preserve of the sole trader."
DBS chairman Ken Davy says: "Do they authorise members, are they responsible for compliance, PIA fees, ICS levies, and monitoring? If not, they are just a commission-only club. It is essentially greed without responsibility."