Nats are not nets

Ian McIver

Once again the network model is under the spotlight.

This letter is not to go through the pros and cons of membership. However, I take issue with the network report you published (FA, Jan 22) and the top 15 ‘networks’ mentioned.

I have been saying it for over a decade, so I will repeat it again. There is a difference between a network and a national. SJP are quoted as being the biggest network, but they are not a network – they operate a national model. A national is a group of advisers all working to the same model and way of working, that is; they offer the same charging structure, common software and processing methods, and invariably can have their own funds. I always say the national model is like being in the army – ultimately everyone wears the same uniform.

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Using the same way of thinking, a network should be akin to civvy street. They are independent firms (let us not debate the regulatory sense). They can all wear different clothes and can go about their business in their own way of thinking, but of course there are still certain laws to be followed.

An interesting point that is arising with regards the demise of network membership is that little by little networks are styling themselves like nationals, and that was never the original intention.

Members of networks now seem to be told that they must all use common software (back and front office), often working to panels and insisting on attending meetings. It all starts to feel very ‘national’ in shape. As I say, that was never the intention.

Ian McIver

Head of sales, IFA Compliance, Cheltenham