Advisers need to look at what they want a trade body to do.
Is it to act as a centralisation of views and opinion in order to see fair play by way of consensus in the formation of a regulatory framework and the impact it has on its membership, or is it to see the protection of the word ‘independent’?
Since restricted and independent advisers are subject to the same regulatory constraints and controls, and to a great degree share the same ideals (ensuring their clients get the best possible service and advice relevant to their aims, aspirations and circumstances), surely strength can be found in the broad church model, rather than creating a sect-like representation that will never get heard with any degree of seriousness, as not enough firms want to pay.
Linked with this conundrum is the fact that advice can be independent in the restricted model, as the restriction is by way of what you want to advise upon by way of qualification. Are those high net-worth wealth architects restricted if they choose not to be involved with the protection market or the mortgage market?
So that brings us to the thorny question of trade body or trade union. In today’s world, the latter does not carry the clout of the pre-Thatcher years, but unions still have the capacity to bring normal life to a standstill.
Professions do not make easy bedfellows with this ideal, and I suspect IFAs would feel uneasy at being represented by a trade union, and unwilling to get involved with mass protest.
The sight of IFAs huddled around braziers in high streets up and down the land would not do the credibility image much good.
So, in short, where should we go in search of the Holy Grail of strong and united representation?
Do our financial advisers need Brother Bob Crow rather than Sister Gill Cardy?
Derek Bradley, Chief executive, Panacea Adviser