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Membership crisis causes IFA Centre to close

After months of speculation as to whether IFA Centre could continue with low membership numbers, its founder Gill Cardy has announced that it will close at the start of 2014.

The trade body was committed to representing independent financial advisers in the industry, but Ms Cardy found numbers were never high enough to make it a full-time obligation.

“The challenge for trade bodies is getting the membership base, because I think advisers have got other things on their plate to worry about,” she told Money Management in October.

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She said it was sometimes hard to convince advisers of the importance of trade bodies as opposed to professional organisations.

As an organisation, IFA Centre did not take money from product providers. This added further difficulty in raising funds when membership numbers were low, but gave the organisation an independence that many other bodies lack.

“I feel my independence isn’t compromised because I only have member funding, but the downside is I don’t have enough member funding,” said Ms Cardy.

She feels a trade body should cover issues beyond professional standing and chartership, such as whether to be independent or restricted, together with regulatory concerns.

It calls into question the role of trade bodies in the adviser profession, and it remains to be seen whether IFA Centre was playing a vital role – just one advisers were not willing to pay for.

Ms Cardy is moving on to a new role as head of practice development at IFA network ValidPath.

At the time of closing, IFA Centre had 102 member firms representing 240 individuals.