There has been much said in recent weeks about Apfa representing larger firms and networks at the expense of smaller firms.
What seems to be overlooked here is the fact that networks are primarily made up of small firms – more than 80 per cent of Tenet’s network members have five advisers or less and many are sole traders. Our Network Focus Group, a group of members who act as representatives on a regional basis and come from small and larger firms, provides a mechanism to gather the views of the wider membership. As you would expect, these views are often diverse and the network helps to distil the wider views into some common aims and issues that can be fed into our trade body as well as to the regulators directly. The network umbrella adds a more efficient way to determine a collective voice on issues, without which it is often difficult to engage in serious debate with the regulator and the government.
In terms of the issues themselves, those facing networks and their members are, in the main, common across the board, and I struggle to see where Apfa is favouring any particular group. The £3m a year saving in the cost to advisers of the government’s Pension Wise guidance service benefits us all as does a £3m-a-year saving in Money Advice Service fees for advisers, following Apfa’s efforts in persuading the FCA to recalculate the funding formula in 2013. The review of long stop is also relevant across the board for all firms.
If the accusation is that Apfa only represents groups like Tenet then it is missing the point that Tenet is representing the sole trader, the small firm, the large firm, appointed representatives and directly authorised firms, all of whom we conduct business with on a day-to-day basis with no lack of alignment in our collective objectives.