Tenet distribution and development director Keith Richards says: “The world has moved on from the debate over multi-tied versus independent, which was created through depolarisation. The new definitions of independence are being enhanced under the RDR from the current requirements. If many of today’s IFAs were to carry on operating across the same range and in the same way as they currently do under the RDR, there is a strong chance they would become restricted advisers.
“Therefore Aifa’s decision to be more pragmatic about its own future is a wise one, especially as we might see some firms introduce a mix of independent and restricted advisers.”
SimplyBiz managing director Matthew Timmins says: “Given the obvious lack of financial support it is receiving, Aifa had no choice but to ensure it represents as many advisers as possible post-RDR.
“This move must not detract from defending and supporting the interests of the independent sector. I believe the public would rather see a robust, professional and thriving independent sector than they would a large restricted market. Independence is in the best interests of the consumer and Aifa needs to ensure unwavering support for these firms and advisers.”
Lucian Camp Consulting principal Lucian Camp says: “This will have relatively little impact on Aifa’s position with consumers and the consumer media. Most consumers are not going to make an important distinction between independent and restricted advice. If anything, the boundaries are going to be even more blurred in the post-RDR regime. For consumers, this is big news in toy town. It is not as big an issue as advisers have made it out to be in the past.”
Yellowtail Financial Planning managing director Dennis Hall says: “I feel this is the most appropriate way to go otherwise potentially you are going to have a very small membership. A lot of current IFAs in the new world are probably going to be operating on some kind of a multi-tied basis.
“If Aifa is looking at firms that would potentially choose to go restricted and operate from a wide panel, I think that makes sense. The industry needs a voice that is loud enough, and if membership is restricted only to independent advisers then it is just not going to have any clout”
Syndaxi Chartered Financial Planners managing director Robert Reid says: “Aifa has a problem in managing its diverse membership already. To add to its diverse membership smacks of lunacy.”
Aifa council member and Norwest Consultants principal Harry Katz says: “There are plenty of small IFAs that subscribe and pay to join Aifa. But on their own I do not think they are enough to allow Aifa to survive in its current format. I do not like this as an ideal solution, but we have got to be pragmatic. If I could think of a better route to where we need to go, I would have suggested it. Sometimes if you do not have an alternative, you have to just swallow the cod liver oil. The important thing is that people recognise that Aifa has something to offer, and so they need to put their hands in their pockets. Because if they do not, all this is a waste of time.”
Fellow Aifa council member and West Riding Personal Financial Solutions managing director Neil Liversidge says: “If we were to work to the FSA’s definition of independence, we would be letting the regulator decide who can be an Aifa member. We have come up with a more realistic definition of our own. It is not up to the FSA to set the demarcation lines of our membership.”
Former IFA Association director general Garry Heath says: “When organisations expand their footprint they become less relevant to each sector of their membership. As I understand it Aifa is having enough trouble as it is attracting IFAs to take up membership. If the breadth of the organisation keeps expanding, it will end up representing nothing for everybody.”
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