It is about three quarters of the way through Financial Adviser’s interview with Liz Field – the custodian of the newly merged trade body consisting of the Association of Professional Financial Advisers (Apfa) and the Wealth Management Association (WMA) – when she drops the IFA bomb.
Challenged about her qualifications for representing the future of advisers through the rebranded Investment Management and Financial Advice Association (Imfa) – and having already made a convincing case concerning her credentials and seeming like the non-nonsense player the adviser community might welcome – she said that as well as having a long career helming trade bodies and running her own business, she actually employs an IFA herself to manage her financial affairs.
She said: “I’m very familiar with advisers and planners and I have one myself…who knows everything about me. Yes, I have an IFA and he is my trusted adviser. He doesn’t tell me what to do, he listens, he advises, he guides and he does it very well.”
Although, up until now, she has been dealing exclusively with wealth managers at the WMA in sectors including private banks, execution, discretionary, advisory and even online, she is aware that the management and advisory communities are increasingly crossing over with one another. This is one of the issues that informed her approach to Apfa and helped kick off preliminary merger talks 18 months ago.
Apfa members gave their approval for the deal last month. So, barring any acts of God, as we go to press the new partnership is expected to be in place to create the nascent trade association.
Ms Field will take control of the new body that is set to run under a refreshed tagline “Building Personal Finance Futures”. Current Apfa director general Chris Hannant has been given the option to stay on as a “strategic adviser” for 12 months, although whether he completes that term is currently in his hands: Ms Field herself has stated it is up to his “personal aspirations or thoughts” on how he proceeds.
She does not particularly play on being a woman in the male-dominated world of finance. However, when Financial Adviser told Ms Field that figures from industry measurement body IMAS revealed that in February this year there were 27,977 male IFAs and only 6,025 females in the investment distribution sector (essentially IFAs), she did not seem impressed that the differential in numbers was that wide, as she runs a trade body that has a 50/50 split on its senior management board.
She used the wider word "diversity" to get her point across, but said the industry and Imfa has to get a grip on making the valid point that to represent a diverse client base you should have a diverse IFA workforce.
Although she said there “are issues with recruiting women and attracting women to the sector in the first place,” she added that: "There is a “broader strategic ask, which is how we promote investment advice and the financial management community as a sector to people generally, whether that be men or women coming to work in the sector or to actually using investment managers and financial advisers for part of your own financial wellbeing.”