EXCLUSIVE: Worries over AMI focus on protection

Sarah Davidson

July 27, 2011

Following the Association of Independent Financial Advisers’ strategic review AMI, which operates as part of AIFA, said its members were keen for the body to focus more on protection.

But Lakey is unconvinced that the idea will get off the ground.

He said: “AIFA is trying to be all things to all people and as a result may fail to deliver on many of these – such as the short-lived Longstop Committee.

“I believe that the Protection Review is best placed to do direct lobbying on protection.

“AIFA/AMI can only involve themselves if the major players become involved.”

In Lakey’s opinion these players include Protection Review directors Peter le Beau, Kevin Carr and Andy Couchman as well as Life Search’s chief executive Tom Baigrie, IFA and protection specialist Roy McLoughlin of Master Adviser.

Also on Lakey’s list of key protection specialists are IFA and protection specialist Peter Chadborn of Plan Money, protection adviser Peter Lurie, London & Country’s sales director Michael Aldridge, Penny O’Nions principal of specialist intermediary The Onion Group and Clive Waller who set up the Income Protection Task Force in 2005.

Lakey added: “It’s a good idea but a flawed concept as AIFA has no particular knowledge or skills to offer.”

Robert Sinclair, director at AMI, said he welcomed all input from members.

He said: “We recognise Alan’s passion and expertise in this area. Our membership have set out that there is a need for us to focus more attention on this area.

“As an inclusive trade body we always welcome input from all our members and if the names cited are members then they would be very welcome to participate. There may well be space for both bodies.

“As a trade body we do more than lobby, as we also have a role in trying to ensure that firms recognise and adopt best practice.”

Kevin Carr, chief executive of the Protection Review, said he had been involved in discussions with AIFA to set up a protection division in the past but those had fallen through, suggesting both cost and the need for someone to head it up being contributing factors in its failure.

He said: “I’ve talked to AIFA before about setting up a protection division – API for example, Association of Protection Intermediaries – but for various reasons it didn’t get off the ground.

“So I’d welcome AMI’s involvement but stress that the key issues protection intermediaries face are not restricted to mortgage advisers of course, they apply across the market.

“I think Protection Review would be keen to work with them, as I’m sure the Income Protection Task Force would be, and SPA too – the specialist protection advisers group on LinkedIn.”

Carr added the issues AMI would need to cover and consider included policy and lobbying on the RDR, the future of commission, gender and other EU directives as well as changes in the tax regime for life offices.

David Hollingworth, director at mortgage brokers London & Country, said: “With the purchase of a mortgage so often the trigger point for the need and purchase of protection products, it makes a lot of sense for AMI to form a specialist group, especially as this has come on the back of feedback from its members.

“The group will clearly need to reflect the breadth of the broker market and represent the full range of distribution model in order to make sure that it covers the topics that are of concern to its members.

“Not only should this group help AMI to focus and represent the interests of its members in a lobbying capacity it should also help with the broader promotion of protection and the need for advice in that process.

“The other knock on benefit is that it will hopefully help members improve their knowledge of the sector and keep abreast of market movement.”

Phil Jeynes, head of account development at provider PruProtect, said he supported the idea.

He said: “This is definitely a good idea and more and more mortgage intermediaries are focusing on protection as being a key line of income.

“There are some real success stories in the mortgage market, with companies such as London and Country, Pink and Mortgage Advice Bureau all committed to giving high quality protection advice to their customers.

“It is to firms such as this which AMI should look for examples of how to make the process work.

“As a provider we would lend our support in terms of training and would welcome such a group’s feedback on product and process developments.”

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