Firing line  

‘I could see I was joining at the start of something special’

‘I could see I was joining at the start of something special’

Since Dave Seager joined Sifa in 2008, the business has undergone a few changes. 

Sifa was and is still made up of two entities: Sifa Support Services and Sifa Professional. 

But in May 2019, Sifa’s parent company, SimplyBiz, decided to integrate the support services side of Sifa into SimplyBiz, with professional connections business Sifa Professional operating as its own entity. 

Mr Seager, who became managing director of Sifa Professional in May this year, says: “Sifa Professional is a membership proposition just designed to help clients build [connections] with solicitors.

“Although solicitors are not doing financial services themselves, there is still a massive overlap between what solicitors do and the financial [advice industry].”

Boosting membership

Sifa was bought by SimplyBiz in 2011. Mr Seager explains that one of the company’s key aims is to “aggressively boost membership of Sifa in the next few months”. 

He says: “We are going to be having a real push on Sifa Professional membership in the financial advisory community, both within the SimplyBiz Group and to external IFAs who want to benefit from our experience and advice.”

Mr Seager adds: “We work very closely with the Solicitors Regulation Authority, we educate our IFAs and financial advisory members to have a better understanding of [legal knowledge], as most IFAs don’t have that.” 

He highlights how the solicitors’ model is “transactional” and that several lawyers struggle to build longer-term relationships with clients.

This is why Sifa Professional is useful to solicitors, as they are able to build relationships through the use of financial advisers’ client bases.

“‘I did a great divorce for you last year, can I do another one?’ It is not that easy for a solicitor to develop that ongoing client relationship,” Mr Seager jokes. 

A financial adviser will always be meeting an ongoing client and that process can involve a solicitor, he explains, adding: “Financial advisers can help solicitors change their customer relationship into a client relationship.” 

Mr Seager says Sifa is in the process of establishing relationships with other organisations. 

“It is my plan to build closer ties with relevant sister organisations that will benefit our firms, and the Society of Later Life Advisers and Resolution are the first two,” he confirms.

“Our partnership with Solla was launched at the end of June 2018. The partnership includes mutual discounts for both parties on membership, joint website links and events.”

The SRA confirmed in March this year that new regulations will come into force on November 25, paving the way for a separate code of conduct for firms and solicitors to operate.

Mr Seager says: “For the first time there will be a structure and process behind who the solicitors decide to refer to financial advisers.”

“The challenge for the good advisory firm is to present their credentials in such a way that the solicitor is going to say, ‘we should be working with this financial adviser firm for the benefit of our clients’,” he explains.