Aviva intermediary head ‘surprised’ at demand for IFA label

The number of advisers stating an intention to remain independent is “a source of surprise” and will likely give way over time to a shift towards restricted advice models, Aviva Life intermediary director Andy Beswick has said.

According to Aviva’s most recent Adviser barometer, published today and based on an online survey of 355 advisers, 79 per cent of IFAs intend to remain independent after the Retail Distribution Review.

Mr Beswick, intermediary director for Aviva Life, said: “The proportion that said they will remain independent was a source of surprise.”

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He added that this goes contrary to a great deal of market speculation which suggests the opposite.

For example, a survey carried out by research company Defaqto in March 2012 found that 70 per cent of advisers intend to remain independent post-RDR, representing a negative trend from 87 per cent that said they would retain their IFA label in January.

However, Mr Beswick predicted economic factors and customer relationships will drive a shift towards restricted in the longer term.

He said: “IFAs will work out that what a customer wants is a trusted adviser and not necessarily one that’s independent. I think the economics will be better for restricted and customers value trused adviser far more than independent.”

The barometer also found the percentage of advisers intending to leave the industry is lower than expected.

In a positive turn for the advice sector, Aviva’s latest study showed that only 3.4 per cent of advisers are planning to leave the industry at the end of 2012. In January 2009, Aviva found that 37 per cent were thinking of leaving the industry before the RDR takes effect in January 2013.

Mr Beswick believes this is in part because everyone who was planning on leaving has already gone, while those that remain are committed to finishing their exams and attaining the necessary qualifications.

He said: “The guys who never wanted to come on the journey left last year. Those that made the commitment to pass the exams are doing what they set out to do. Most are confident that they are going to get the levels of qualification to be compliant.”

For further information, see the FTAdviser guide to independent versus restricted.