Firing Line: Gill Cardy, IFA Centre
Managing director and founder of adviser trade body, talks about her mission to speak up for independent advisers.
The financial service industry’s loss could have been teaching’s gain if Gill Cardy had decided to pursue an alternative career. Ms Cardy, who is currently pressing the claims of the independent advisory community with the IFA Centre, planned on taking a teaching course in her youth before landing a temporary role in 1987 at Guardian Royal Exchange in Bristol.
However her dreams of teaching soon fell by the wayside as she embarked on a six-year career with the insurer, undertaking a variety of roles. She said: “I did everything from compliance and style-checking for our appointed representatives, through to preparing quotations for pensions and even running a mortgage desk for a while.
“I was made redundant in 1993 and decided to enrol at Nottingham University to do an MBA. The plan was to leave financial services after graduating but it proved difficult to find a job and I ended up back at GRE as part of its direct sales force.”
In 1996 Ms Cardy left to become an IFA with London-based firm Fiona Price & Partners. After a brief spell in a financial planning role with KPMG in 1998 she set up her own IFA firm, Professional Partnerships, and continued advising clients until selling the business to Bristol-based Nicholls Stevens in 2007.
She added: “I enjoyed advising clients and I still miss it to a certain extent. Despite selling the business, I was still drawn to the industry and wanted to contribute to it.
“Since then I have done some business transition work, and did a bit of sailing with my husband, who is a former naval officer and member of the Royal Naval Reserves. We took three months out and sailed 10,000 miles, from Hull to France and then on to Rio and Cape Town.”
Her current project, the IFA Centre, was borne out of discussions held in 2011 after the Association of IFAs decided to allow membership for restricted advisers.
Ms Cardy said: “I first started having thoughts about a new trade body around July. The new Aifa rules meant that independent advisers no longer had their own unique voice through Aifa.”
“The IFA Centre opened in January 2012 and now boasts almost 100 members from 37 separate IFA firms. At the moment one of my main objectives is to attract more firms to the fold. We have a good selection of companies now involved across the UK, but I want to make sure we have enough on board to have credibility. It’s a not-for-profit organisation and completely independent from my consulting business.
“People ask me what I stand for but as a membership organisation it’s up to the members to decide what our objectives will be. I will be somebody who argues the IFAs’ corner by influencing decision makers and I’m hoping we grow exponentially in the next 12 months. About 250 would be a good number by the end of the year, but in the long run I’d like to see 10 times that figure as members.”
Key areas of attention for the IFA Centre in the summer months were the Financial Services Compensation Scheme consultation paper on reform and the scheme’s funding review paper. Ms Cardy said: “The existing system is broken in so many ways. We need to alter it so that it can work for both the regulators and the adviser community.