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What members really want from the IFP

What members really want from the IFP

Losing IFP’s “unique” culture tops the list of the major concerns in light of the body’s impending merger with Cisi, IFP members have said.

Shockwaves were sent throughout the advisory sector by the August announcement of the professional bodies’ merger plans, with IFP staff set to move from Bristol to Cisi’s London headquarters.

For Dominic Thomas, independent financial adviser at London-based Solomons IFA, the merger will be different, but maintaining the culture of information-sharing would be important for the new body to maintain.

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He said: “The extent of openness and willingness to share is something that is unique to the IFP – I have not come across other professions like it.

“The IFP has helped the adviser’s cause over the years. For me, it has been massively influential in that it has introduced me to proper financial planning and has introduced me to so many people who are doing a really good job that you can learn from, and it gives you the opportunity to pass on the things you are doing well.”

Also, access to Cisi’s level seven Chartered Wealth Manager qualification has become a contentious issue in the light of the merger.

To become CWM-qualified, advisers are required to pass a postgraduate study which delves into financial markets, portfolio construction theory and applied wealth management, followed by a year of CPD.

But to achieve IFP’s Level six Certified Financial Planner qualification, advisers must complete a diploma in financial planning – comprising an exam on the principles of financial planning, and a case study, followed by CPD.

Hadrian Halloway, diploma-qualified paraplanner at London-based Baigrie Davies, said: “Cisi has rigorous exams, which you could argue are more technical than the IFP exams. I’m not sure how Cisi members would react to IFP members having access to the same level of qualification by taking a couple of top-up exams, when they have taken a longer route.

“The CFP is hugely beneficial to IFP members but the reverse might not be the case.”

However, Carl Melvin, certified and chartered financial planner of Renfrewshire-based Affluent Financial Planning, said the merger made business sense and would amplify the body’s presence in the industry.

He said: “As it stands, the IFP is too small to have a big enough voice and influence change, so becoming part of an bigger organisation would give us that voice. The big concern that I think the majority of members will have is they want to be reassured that the culture and the heart of the IFP is preserved.”

IFP View

When asked, IFP president Alan Dick was unsure what changes the merger might bring. He said: “There are a lot of things we need to think about and talk through, so I do not have an answer to that yet.”

Mr Dick also confirmed that the IFP will host its annual conference next year.