CompaniesNov 19 2015

IFAs torn over Cisi deal

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It is the end of an era for the Institute of Financial Planning.

November 1 marked the day the professional membership organisation closed up shop following its merger with the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment.

The merger was heralded by the financial services bodies as a positive step forward; opening the door to new realms of possibilities for its members. However, the acquisition process has not been plain sailing.

An estimated 13 IFP staff members have opted to take a redundancy package rather than move east from their offices in Bristol to London.

There have also been grumbles of dissatisfaction from disgruntled members of the IFP who have questioned the benefits of the move and whether it will dilute the body’s somewhat unique culture.

A concern made clear by a question and answer session on the IFP’s website is whether the move is truly a merger, or whether the body will be absorbed into Cisi.

Alistair Cunningham, chartered financial planner at Surrey based Wingate Financial Planning, and a member of both the Personal Finance Society and IFP, broadcast his concern on the matter in a post on a popular adviser forum.

He said: “I am concerned that the IFP will be subsumed by the Cisi. I may, or may not, continue my membership if this happens.”

In direct response, Steve Gazzard, then interim chief executive of the IFP, released a statement stating that the company would form part of Cisi as the Financial Planning Professional Forum, retaining its brand, and operate a committee consisting of IFP board members.

He added: “Members of the IFP forum committee would serve on all key committees within Cisi including a position on the board of Cisi.”

Despite Mr Gazzard’s reasoning, Mr Cunningham remains unconvinced.

He said: “It is a takeover; there are no two ways about it. I am not in support of the merger, but it has happened.

“Many people were attracted to the IFP because it was a small organisation, and a significant amount of its membership comprised individuals who come from small practices that stood for financial planning over asset management.

“Cisi’s ideology is completely different. It focuses on wealth management – what has that got to do with financial planning?”

A Cisi spokesman said that IFP members will sit on the education, qualification, membership and integrity committees respectively, while ex-IFP president Rebecca Taylor, whose role was succeeded by Alan Dick, is the sole IFP representative in the Cisi’s 17-strong board of directors.

Meanwhile, Mr Dick is chairman of a new IFP professional forum, which will be run by a committee initially consisting of the existing IFP board, set up as a distinct part of Cisi.