Aifa rebrand caters to split market post-RDR, Hannant
Aifa eleborates on rebrand but adviser argues that trying to represent both sides will weaken appeal to IFAs.
The decision by the Association of IFAs to remove the word ‘independent’ from its name and replace it with ‘professional’ follows a prediction that many of its members will decide to go the restricted route post-Retail Distribution Review.
The trade body announced earlier today intentions to change its name to the Association of Professional Financial Advisers. The decision will be finalised and take effect at the organisation’s AGM on 13 November, with a full rebranding to be completed by the end of the year.
According to Chris Hannant, policy director at Aifa, the trade body’s membership is expected to be divided approximately evenly between restricted and independent advisers.
He said: “We believe that our members will be on both sides of the line and we want to be a strong a representative of the industry as a whole. Our voice is more powerful the more people we represent and we expect a good portion of financial advisers on both sides of the line.
“The distinction [between independent and restricted] is actually a poor one because independent in the new sense doesn’t mean unbiased it means whole of market.”
In July 2011 Aifa revealed plans to allow restricted advisers to join post-RDR.
Mr Hannant added that the decision to include the word ‘professional’ instead of ‘independent’ also reflected the higher standards required by the RDR.
However, John Bloomfield, IFA at Paul Wilson Financial Services, claims that by catering to both sides the association will weaken its representation of independent advisers.
As a result he says he plans to opt out of membership this December.
He said: “My own personal take is that despite what certain advisers will have us believe there will be a difference between independent and restricted post-RDR.
“For Aifa to drop that and represent what I see as two separate sectors means they aren’t really a dedicated IFA body anymore.”
He added: “Currently independence is the only word that consumers have any really clear understanding of and it’s the only word that they value.”
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