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Scheme aims to engage the public with IFA sector

Alan Swaysland’s letter on “Free PFS advice service helping the wrong client” (Money Marketing, May 5) throws an interesting light on the approach of some IFAs to trying to engage more customers with the IFA sector.

What was known as the “CAB/Sofa” scheme has been inherited by the PFS. I have attended one session of the steering group which is overseeing this service. It is a pilot scheme and a report is due this year. Only then will it be possible to make an assessment of the success or otherwise of the experiment.

The CII/Sofa did make a financial contribution last year, as recorded in the Mail on Sunday recently in a very supportive article. But Sofa also offered volunteer IFAs, some of whom are now taking part in the pilot.

I have had calls from other IFAs who would like to be part of this trial so it would appear there is a degree of enthusiasm to reach out to new clients who may not have been motivated in the past to deal with an IFA.

Although the initial consultation would be free, if a client wanted some work to be carried out it would seem reasonable for the IFA to carry out this work in the normal way for his firm. The arrangements for this would be between the IFA and the client and nothing to do with us or the CAB.

Bearing in mind that around 80 per cent of an IFA’s work with a client is generic advice, it is worthwhile asking how much of this an IFA is prepared to carry out on a free basis in order to acquire a new client.

This question will arise more and more if the IFA is seen to be part of a solution to the problem of meeting more comprehensively the savings and protection needs of the population.

Surely a fee is not to be demanded as a condition of having a meeting? Is not the first step to establish trust and confidence and identify areas (if any) where work can productively be carried out to the benefit of the client?

I am curious as to why Alan did not approach us to discuss his concerns before writing to Money Marketing. I would be happy to give him a briefing on the CAB project.

John Ellis

Public affairs director,

Personal Finance Society

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