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New IFA body tells advisers stop whinging and fight back

New IFA body tells advisers stop whinging and fight back

Financial advisers must “stop acting like hostages” and come out and fight the regulator, according to Garry Heath, director general of new trade body Libertatem.

Speaking to FTAdviser, he said that the new group is gradually building its membership and is “where we thought it would be at this stage”, although no firm numbers were given.

Having been the founder of defunct organisation the IFA Association, Mr Heath said that he knew that these things take time to build momentum and it was all about converting strong initial interest into actual members.

A maiden mailout is set for Monday (17 August), but he admitted that the government’s review of ways to plug the advice gap had moved his organisation’s schedule on by a few months.

“If we can unite, this is the best chance to reform adviser market regulation in 20 years, however the chair of the review is the chief regulator and turkeys famously don’t vote for Christmas.

“We’re also concerned that the FCA has its people in other influential departments, for instance when MPs complain about the regulator, they are often responded to by FCA staff on secondment to the Treasury - so I’ve written to the speaker of the house about this.”

One bone of contention with advisers are regulatory fees. Last month, FTAdviser revealed that an adviser had seen his total fees increase by 400 per cent, while others have seen jumps of at least 50 per cent.

Following the FSCS’s announcement in April that life and pension advisers are to be hit with the maximum levy of £100m in 2015 to 2016, advisers called for radical solutions, including those willing to advise on unregulated investments being carved out from the rest of the sector, as well as a product levy spread across all products.

Mr Heath re-stated his oft-announced war cry that accountability is the only thing that can save the UK’s system of financial regulation.

“We have to assemble the troops - so that’s our group of advisers, certain consumer bodies, some members of the Treasury Select Committee and other backbenchers; if we can do that we stand a good chance.”

His strategy for actually changing the course of the consultation is to get members of parliament onside and pressuring the chancellor to act, making it something of a popularity contest, said Mr Heath.

“There are no guarantees of success, but if we don’t try then we will be sure to lose and stuck with the status quo, or worse more regulation, increased costs and more social engineering.”

At its launch in May, the formation committee included IFAs Steven Farrall, Alan Lakey, Alan Steel and Mark Learmont, along with European Federation of Financial Advisers and Intermediaries secretary general Paul Stanfield and Phil Moore from Action Consulting.