Without a unified voice to protect smaller IFAs, the industry will become a shadow of its former self, warns Sheriar Bradbury
We might have enjoyed a blazing hot summer, but things are looking far from bright for the IFA industry. Eight months since the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) was introduced, there's little doubt that IFAs remain under the cosh.
With regulatory changes to grapple with and financial burdens to shoulder, IFAs have a very stacked plate and, it would seem, somewhat unfairly, that the smaller IFAs are bearing the brunt of it. While the larger players may dominate the headlines, we must be careful not to sideline the many small firms and individual advisers that make up this industry.
It is simply that they lack the financial power and clout to make their voice heard and must channel all their efforts on the running of their own business.
Why small firms need a single voice
What the industry is in desperate need of is a single, unified voice to represent small firms. Many pressure groups have sought to make headway but have seemingly failed in their task. Just recently, the IFA Centre admitted it would have to shut down unless its membership grew.
Pressure groups such as the IFA Centre are a key component of this industry and we must not let them disappear.
If we have any hope of surviving the rollercoaster of changes and demands placed upon us, then we must stand united. Greater cohesion among the pressure groups would mark a turning point; if we are to lobby the watchdog or call on the government, we need to show that we are all singing from the same hymn sheet.
What we don't need are pressure groups whose agenda is dominated by the larger companies with more financial sway and clever marketing, as often their requirements and reactions differ greatly to those of the smaller players. We need pressure groups that protect the interests of all IFAs across the board.
To do this, the industry needs a collective voice; groups need to work together to recognise the key issues that tie everybody together. What are the areas we should be addressing as an industry?
The focus needs to be specific and it needs to be cohesive. It is the desire of all of us to have a proper, fully functioning market where the masses receive sound financial advice. This certainly won't happen if the smaller guys are not adequately protected and subsequently squeezed out of the market.
Of course, it has to work both ways; IFAs need to show greater support of pressure groups. Perhaps they don't have the time to concern themselves or perhaps they are under the illusion that their voice won't count but without their support, this industry will slowly start to erode.
Trying to get everyone to agree is undoubtedly a huge challenge but the alternative is to create a shrinking of the market and ultimately the demise of the small IFA.
Sheriar Bradbury is managing director at Bradbury Hamilton
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