EXCLUSIVE: AMI may jump ship from AIFA

Nia Williams

September 28, 2011

The discussions – understood to be known to the AMI board as “Plan B” – come after AIFA director Stephen Gay’s strategic review in July this year which announced a restructure giving AMI a seat on the AIFA board.

But two separate sources have revealed that some members of the AMI board, made up of mortgage intermediaries, are unhappy and have begun to look at options to set AMI up as a standalone trade body.

One source said: “There have been discussions about AMI breaking away from AIFA although as yet no-one can agree on how a mortgage intermediary only trade body would be funded.

“One thing we have been clear on is that AMI must not become a commercial proposition. But there is a bit of disquiet out there and when you consider the way the market has gone over the past four years it was inevitable there would be a fallout for AMI.”

The other source said: “I know there has been talk of AMI breaking away.”

But Pat Bunton, one of AMI’s two deputy chairmen and director of London & Country, denied that any decisions had been made.

“I can assure you that no such plan is in place at the moment but we would be mad given that AIFA is in the middle of its strategic review not to consider the potential impacts any changes at AIFA level might have on AMI,” he said.

“The AMI board is quite rightly considering how best to represent the interests of its members and until we know what the full outcomes of the AIFA review are we can’t rule anything in or out but I am not saying there is a plan to split AMI away from AIFA.”

AMI’s other deputy chairman Stephen Smith, director of housing and public affairs at Legal & General, said: “Pat has hit the nail on the head. Clearly as AIFA reviews its strategy the AMI board has to review what is in the interests of its members.”

Commenting, Stephen Gay, AMI director general said: “We are working closely with our members to consider how they want the profession to be represented as part of the overall strategic review of AIFA and AMI.

“We have set out plans for a more influential role for AMI as part of the new organisation, including representation on the elected Board. As part of any review, a full range of options have been considered. AMI enjoys a strong and growing reputation amongst policymakers for the depth of its expertise and has provided a consistent and respected voice for the mortgage advice community.

“We believe the new structure, having AMI within a stronger AIFA trade association, will increase further its influence on policy and regulatory discussions and its ability to represent its members.”

Last week reports revealed that AIFA has considered raising cash by asking appointed representatives of networks to stump up additional membership fees. The reports claimed minutes from a working group meeting held by AIFA revealed 89% of IFA firms paying for AIFA benefits are network members contributing a total of £185,000 a year. This equates to 33% of all IFA contributions and covers 11% of the association’s cost base.

AIFA’s strategic changes are expected to be implemented over the next 18 months.

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