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Transition time

The retail distribution review presents IFAs with a significant opportunity to grow their client base and generate significant additional value within their businesses. The most recently announced proposals are a positive step forward and while there remain some issues to be ironed out, the future should hold no fear for advisers who are prepared to adapt quickly to the changing rules.

IFAs will have the opportunity to demonstrate the value of the services they provide by differentiating themselves from the restricted advice sector. They will be able to improve their revenue model, with greater focus on recurring income in return for ongoing advisory services.

Their reputation with consumers will be further improved through gaining additional professional qualifications. But the opportunity will only be seized if advisers embrace the proposals and start planning the transition of their business models so that they are in a position to thrive come January 1, 2013.

Clearly, many advisers are already well advanced in their plans while others are looking for support on where to start – the Aifa programme aims to support both.

We firmly believe that the onus is not just on financial advisers to facilitate this transition. Product providers and industry bodies have a responsibility to help advisers scope out the changes that need to be made and construct a plan for how they are going to implement them.

To help advisers with this, we are working with Aifa to support its online business academy which will enable Aifa member firms to put in place a transition strategy aimed to help them thrive in the post-RDR world. The first phase of the academy has recently gone live. It enables IFA businesses to begin self-assessment and planning for business transition. The online tool will ask members questions on subjects ranging from business strategy through to client segmentation and servicing. Once completed, the online academy will generate an action plan to help businesses map their transition to becoming an RDR-ready organisation.

The RDR consultation paper is a positive development for the IFA profession. The opportunity is now there for businesses to react, to embrace the proposed changes and build robust, profitable organisations that can meet and even exceed the demands of the RDR.

One thing is sure, there is no turning back from the RDR challenge. The process of transition should not be underestimated and for some it might take years to complete but the tools Aifa is providing can be of enormous benefit to their members in meeting the challenge.

The second phase of the online business academy will launch in September. It will provide a full range of modules to assist IFA businesses as they prepare themselves for RDR regulation.

The online business academy will be supported by live events to run across the country, to introduce the modules and give the context for their use. The modules are in response to extensive research among advisers on what they need to best support their businesses. The programme is free to Aifa members and includes comprehensive tools and guidance as well as an extensive resource library.

Many advisers are already very focused on transitioning their business to the new model of advice to meet client requirements. Not only will the Aifa business transition programme ensure advisers are successfully aligned with the RDR, it can help with their natural transition to the new model and dramatically improve the efficiency, transparency and profitability of their business. To find out more and to register, visit www.aifaffwd.net

Giles Elliott is head of brand and communications at Skandia

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