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‘Pragmatic’ Aifa rebrand risks blurring indy/restricted advice

Chris Hannant 480

Advisers say Aifa’s planned rebrand to the Association of Professional Financial Advisers is logical but fear the move will further blur the distinction between independent and restricted advice.

Last week, the trade body announced plans to change its name following its decision to open up membership to restricted advisers in July 2011.

The new name will be put to a member vote at an annual general meeting on 13 November.

Aifa policy director Chris Hannant says: “This change of name reflects our continuing commitment to the principle that professional advisers should act for the benefit of their clients. This is the principle we will continue to champion with government, regulators and consumers.”

Clearwater Financial Planning managing director Duncan Carter says some restricted advisers may look to exploit their membership of the trade body.

He says: “The name reflects the pragmatic, commercial decision to allow restricted advisers but an unintended consequence will be a further blurring of the distinction between those who are independent and those who are restricted. Cynically speaking, there may be some tied advisers who will look to exploit this by joining the trade body and using it as a hallmark.”

Sovereign IFA director Mark Hibbitt says: “As a trade body, Aifa has to protect itself and try and keep the membership as big as possible. The pendulum seems to swing from week to week about whether there will be more IFAs or restricted advisers. It will come down to public perception on the different types of advice and whether restricted is seen as a negative.”

Thameside Wealth director Tom Kean says: “Aifa had to open up to restricted advisers and so has to rebrand. Aifa could not very well stick its head in the sand and pretend we will all stay as IFAs because that is not the case. The name does what it says on the tin.”

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