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Making It Easier for Advisers to Do Business

VIDEO: APFA's Chris Hannant tells Morningstar what's on his to do list and how his organisation supports financial advisers

Jon Standring 30 September, 2013 | 9:56AM

Jon Standring: Today we're going to be talking about the work of APFA, Association of Professional Financial Advisers, previously known as AIFA. I'm joined today by the Director General, Chris Hannant. Welcome, Chris. 

Hannant: Good morning. Thanks for having me. 

Standring: So to start off, could you give us sort of description of APFA? 

Hannant: Well, APFA is the trade association for financial advisers with – at lobby, the regulator, the government, on behalf of our members to get up better business environment for advisers doing their work. 

Standring: So you’ve recently changed your name from AIFA to APFA. What was the reason for that? 

Hannant: We wanted to continue to represent all our members. The change in definition was a consequence of the RDR meant that some of our members would be restricted and some would be independent. We wanted to continue with all of the memberships and we changed our name to reflect the representation of that broader church. 

Standring: So over the last couple of years you must have been very focused on RDR. What kind of successes have you had in your lobbying? 

Hannant: Yeah, RDR has been the biggest thing on our plate. Some of our recent successes include a reduction of mass fees this year by 1.6 million for advisers, an increase in the number of free cases for the ombudsman from three to 25, and we also persuaded the regulator to change the rules around FSCS funding. So that if the levy thresholds are breached, then we'll get support for the community from insurers and product providers. 

Standring: Going forward, is it still the RDR that you’re focused on? What are your priorities? 

Hannant: Yeah, RDR very much figures on our future. We're looking towards next year; there will be a review from the regulator about its success or otherwise, and obviously we're preparing our evidence and argument to make sure we get a good outcome for advisers. Other things include we’re about to launch campaign on the regulatory dividend from the RDR, and that's about – it's not about reducing standards, but it is about making doing business for advisers easier. So reducing fees, introduction of a long stop, and reducing reporting requirements. 

Standring: A large part of your role is sort of influencing people where you don’t have direct authority necessarily to get your points across. What are your top tips for influencing people? 

Hannant: I think there are two key things; one is, you've got to make sure you've got your case watertight, and that is to make sure your evidence is together, you have the data to support your argument. The second is, building a coalition, working with people who wouldn’t necessarily naturally be allies. But if they can support your case, then it makes some more powerful argument with the regulator or government. So, for example, we look to try and link up with consumer groups if we can, because if they are supporting an argument that the advisers are making, then the regulators can sit up and take more notice. 

Standring: So what are kind of – what are the partners for you? So were you in conjunction with the IMA, et cetera, or… 

Hannant: We work with all the other trade associations in the financial services sector, say, the IMA, the ABI, BBA, et cetera. But also we have a dialogue with consumer groups and other people who've got an interest in getting basically at the end of it a good result for clients. 

Standring: What about political parties? Are you sort of in discussions with Labour, Conservatives, et cetera? Do they have a view? 

Hannant: We talk to the government and, obviously, two parties are currently in government. We also speak to the opposition MPs, because sooner or later they will be backing government probably, and I’m off to the Labour Party conference later today. We'll be visiting the Conservative one next week. 

Standring: So, you're going to the Labour Party conference. How are you going to participate? What are you going to be doing? 

Hannant: There’s a round table event tonight, so there is a group of about 15 people being joined by the Shadow Pensions Minister, Gregg McClymont, and it’s an opportunity to raise issues with him and discuss with the leading players in the industry topics around pensions. 

Standring: Chris, thank you very much. 

Hannant: Thank you. 

Standring: For Morningstar, I’m Jon Standring. Thanks for watching.

The information contained within is for educational and informational purposes ONLY. It is not intended nor should it be considered an invitation or inducement to buy or sell a security or securities noted within nor should it be viewed as a communication intended to persuade or incite you to buy or sell security or securities noted within. Any commentary provided is the opinion of the author and should not be considered a personalised recommendation. The information contained within should not be a person's sole basis for making an investment decision. Please contact your financial professional before making an investment decision.

About Author

Jon Standring

Jon Standring  is Adviser Liaison with Morningstar UK.

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