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Why merge with direct salesmen&#39s trade association?

Why, why, why is Sofa considering linking with the LIA when it is so openly anti-IFA in its comments to the press and is clearly an organisation with its own agenda? Indeed, why would any professional standards body consider merging with what is seen as and appears to act as a trade association?

Historically viewed by many as the direct salesmen&#39s trade body, the LIA now seems to be seeking the badge of consumers&#39 champion with its anti-IFA views regarding trail commission.

There are already life offices which do not redirect trail to the new servicing IFA (with no reduction in contract charges, effectively robbing the client of part of his or her premium designed to pay for advice and assistance) and I am sure many others would welcome the opportunity to profit in this way.

Perhaps the LIA does not understand the additional level of service given by most IFAs as its members generally work directly for insurance companies? Without trail commission, who would pay for the help given to clients, past and present, when they want information about their policy, to obtain statements or simply arrange a new direct debit mandate?

Do I hear the word fees mentioned? Yes, fees have an increasing role in detailed and ongoing advice but imagine telling a client: “You have changed banks and want us to get a new direct debit mandate? Certainly, that will be £25 please” or “Call the life company direct and join its 25-minute queue to speak to someone in Ulan Bator.”

Sofa is a professional standards body and has done an excellent job in developing a range of qualifications to take the industry forward. It should not have its own political agenda nor consider a merger with any body which has one.

It would be just as wrong for Sofa to merge with Aifa but at least we would have the comfort that Aifa is a body that works very hard for us and not one that acts against us.

After a merger, would the LIA element give up their soapbox and work on examinations and education or, as many of us fear, will the new Sofa/LIA become the mouthpiece of the direct and multi-tie salesforces with the advantage of owning the prime CII qualifications?

Graham Bowser

Director,

QS Independent Investment & Pension Consultants,

Birmingham

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