Arguments about EU constitutions aside, one of the more interesting issues to come out of the PIMS conference was whether AIFA might at some stage move closer to the Geneva-based Convention of IFAs (CIFA) to increase members' voices on the European stage.
Jean-Pierre Diserens, CIFA founding member and part of the organisation’s board, notes there is already some closeness with APCIMS, the Association of Private Client Investment Managers and Stockbrokers, in terms of debates on or in Brussels.
Paul Smee, AIFA director general, responds by suggesting CIFA is more stockbroker than IFA facing – “more APCIMS than AIFA” – and that the Brussels links is already dealt with through BIPAR, the European Federation of Insurance Intermediaries.
BIPAR lists member associations from all EU countries plus Lebanon, Romania and the Ukraine. It maintains a structure of working committees and lobbying efforts to influence legislative efforts in both Brussels and national capitals.
The APCIMS reference is notable as the association merged its interests with the European Association of Securities Dealers two years ago.
AIFA does not look likely to move in a similar direction – merging with a pan-European body - and there are no indications of any closer moves towards CIFA.
The question has to be asked, however, as to just how associations and organisations develop a strategic approach to the processes resulting in new laws, and hence new regulations affecting their membership.
There is a strong case for saying the only people who really need to be influenced are those working off Parliament Square – in the Treasury – and in Canary Wharf.
In context of a continuing roll-out of laws and regulations meant to harmonise national markets across the EU this focus may not be sufficient, however, in which case industry associations, bodies or organisations need to decide which approach will bring the best outcomes.
That includes deciding which group of associations to join to get best leverage in influencing events in Brussels – basically a case of deciding which horse to back.
Unfortunately, history is likely to be the only judge of the correct approach, and until then there will be continued robust debate about who is pulling the best strings on behalf of IFAs in the UK and elsewhere.IFAonline
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