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Taking the plunge

Aifa may have already dipped its toe into the muddy waters of depolarisation when it created the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries but now it is contemplating taking a head-first plunge.

The choice is about what extra firms Aifa will allow into its ranks and indeed what firms, if any, it may expell. The potential menu in various combinations includes independents and whole of market, hybrids which include multi-ties and pure multi-ties.

Aifa does not envisage allowing membership for single tied although the boundary may require definition.

To help concentrate minds, Aifa says keeping the organisation exclusively to independents and whole of market businesses will increase costs considerably for members.

So what is at stake? Well, beyond a name change, Aifa loses a great deal of the clarity of message if it no longer solely serves independents. IFAs may have to listen to DG Chris Cummings defending multi-ties on the airwaves and in the papers. But without at least some easing of the criteria, it will lose members and clout.

If it allows pure multi-ties, it could include Openwork, formerly the old Allied Dunbar franchise, which may rankle with some. Obviously, the FSA will want one body although the onus should be on the regulator, even one as arrogant as the FSA, to come to terms with how advisers decide to represent themselves not to dictate how they do so.

For the moment, Money Marketing will reserve judge-ment. We throw open our pages for a full and frank debate.


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