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Seasoned advice is needed amid the Isa anxiety

To believe some commentators, the only way that IFAs can stop clients going to the banks and building societies this Isa season, is to chain themselves to the door of their local branch.

IFAs are not renowned for taking to the streets, so perhaps more creative solutions should be found. The first step might be to not write things off completely. Providers&#39 budgets constructed on boomtime assumptions may be stretched but IFAs would be justified in feeling undermined if all were writing off this season.

In any case, several players are making bullish noises so there may simply be more room on the hoardings this year.

But the next few months present several fundamental challenges to those marketing funds. Will fund managers wean themselves off reliance on past performance or indulge themselves one last time?

Will some discount brokerages, facing falling trail and increased regulatory scrutiny of their Isa guides, come to grief? Will IFAs leave the market to the direct salesforces, as Fidelity warns this week?

In an ideal world, there would not be an Isa season but a measured consideration of investment options throughout the year. Investors who leave it to spring would not follow the latest fad and certainly not invest in equities at the top of a boom.

No one expects IFAs to sell against the grain but some fund managers and advisers did not cover themselves in glory these last two years. But since September, advisers have played a crucial role in reassuring investors. The next months provide an opportunity to show the worth of quality face-to-face investment advice.

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Anne McMeehan

Lives: Kensington,West London and SouthamptonBorn: April 25, 1954Age: 47Education and qualifications: Portsmouth High School, Degree in Economics Politics French and German from Loughborough University of Technology Career to date: Hambro Life, Arbuthnot Latham, Framlington 1985-1996 managing director of Unit Trusts, 1995-6 Deputy Chairman of Autif then communications director 1997 to present. Career ambition:”To have it […]

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