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Review of 2004: AIFA

After five years of fighting the IFA corner for all he was worth, Aifa director general Paul Smee announced he would be leaving in December to join the Association for Payment Clearing Services as chief executive.

2004 has certainly been an eventful year for former civil servant Smee, encompassing a savaging at the hands of the Treasury select committee over Berkeley Berry Birch’s “dumping” of its liabilities on the Investors’ Compensation Scheme.

The year also saw the long awaited emergence of final rules for depolarisation, which included final details on the menu, which Smee describes as his greatest achievement at Aifa. Although never happy about the inclusion of the market-average figure, which he is concerned could limit competition, even as he was leaving Aifa, Smee was still urging IFAs to embrace the menu or see the end of commission.

His replacement, David Severn, comes from the FSA and is likely to bring considerable changes and insight into the workings of the regulator. Facing 2005 with a new director general and the complexities of depolarisation, the menu and the IMD to get to grips with, IFAs cannot be blamed for feeling a slight touch of trepidation.

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