WMA: Trade bodies must stay relevant to survive

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The Wealth Management Association says it is not concerned by the recent turmoil at the Investment Association and other trade bodies, and will continue to engage with the industry to stay relevant and retain members.

A revolt by Investment Association members culminated in the exit of boss Daniel Godfrey two weeks ago, sparking a debate around the relevance and future of financial services trade bodies.

WMA deputy chief executive John Barrass says the trade body will keep “having conversations” with members to ensure it is aligned with their views.

The recent Investment Association turmoil centred around member firms feeling their views were not represented by the body and chief executive Godfrey, leading them to threaten to quit.

Barrass says: “There’ll always be debates about trade bodies and their role, but we are not concerned. There is constant conversation, you can’t just stand still. As far as we are concerned we want to make sure we carry on and keep members with us and make sure we do the right things for them.”

The deputy chief executive, who has been at the trade body for eight years, says in order to keep members in the organisation “you want to make sure you do things that are interesting to them and make them carry on paying”.

Barrass says the WMA members have been “quite clear” in what they want from the trade body.

“Members want us to be good advocates of their thoughts and the way they feel about regulation and their views, the way the industry needs to be promoted … they want us to carry influence for them.”

Mifid II regulation is a key area for the WMA, says Barrass, in particular looking at the issue of investor protection and the timescale to implement the regulation.

Barrass says the WMA is also providing financial education around topics such as cyber crime to make sure members understand the risks around technology and continue to “raise awareness”.

The WMA represents 186 UK firms, including wealth managers and private stock brokers.