Will IFP/CISI merger sideline advisers?

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The influence of advisers risks being eroded by the proposed merger of the Institute of Financial Planning and the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment, IFP members warn.

The IFP has been consulting with members since it announced plans to merge with the CISI last month and yesterday the board voted in favour of the move. The IFP says 70 per cent of members who engaged in the consultation were in favour of the move. Of its 2,173 members, 218 engaged with the consultation.

The professional body argues the merger will allow it to expand the reach of financial planning and improve services for members.

It aims to complete the merger by the end of the year.

Wingate Financial Planning director and IFP member Alistair Cunningham says he could cancel his membership if the merger sidelines financial planning.

He says: “I do not think this is good for IFP members. I want to be a member of a body that stands for financial planning first and foremost, but the whole entity is going to be subsumed into a massive organisation that represents investment managers.

“At best financial planning is going to be marginalised and at worst it will be whittled away to nothing. That is my view at the moment and if that is the case I won’t renew my membership.”

Cunningham adds he is “surprised” that just one in ten IFP members responded to the consultation on the merger.

Not all members are against the merger, however. Writing in Money Marketing last week, Jacksons Wealth Management managing director Pete Matthew said: “Any misgivings I might have [about the merger] are entirely outweighed by my unswerving conviction that those who will be making the decision this month are as passionate about the IFP and the profession as I am.

“For that reason, I am resting easy that the decision will be made in the right spirit and for the right reasons, and all possible effort will be made to ensure everything good about the IFP is preserved.”

Chase de Vere head of communications Patrick Connolly says: “With any merger there is always risk involved. I have got confidence in the people running the IFP but if this isn’t a good move for advisers I am not handcuffed to the organisation and I can just leave.”

IFP president Rebecca Taylor says: “The board has greatly appreciated the honest discourse we have received from members. Whilst positive overall, important concerns have been raised, to which we will give full and detailed attention.

“Over the next few weeks we will be working closely with CISI to work through those issues and ensure that processes are in place for a smooth and effective transition.

“On behalf of the whole IFP board, I wish to express our thanks to all those members who took the time to engage with us during the consultation process.

“We understand that this merger would represent a significant change for the IFP and our profession but we believe that it represents the best way of ensuring the strongest future for financial planning that we all care so passionately about.”