The Life Insurance Association (LIA) and Society of Financial Advisers (SoFA) in the UK are planning to merge the two organisations, to create the UK’s largest representative body for financial advisers.
The two boards have signed heads of agreement to form a new company into which, if members agree, the 25,000 existing members of LIA and SoFA would be transferred by January 2005. The new company would be owned by its members and be a separately constituted and integral part of the CII group. As a professional body with professional standards, it would aim to play a major role in developing trust and confidence in financial advisers amongst the wider community.
The LIA and SoFA Boards have given unanimous backing to the proposed merger, which they also believe would offer simpler, more cohesive and more influential representation for financial advisers.
Both organisations are now planning a joint programme of member communication prior to the full merger proposition being put to members in September for EGMs in October 2004. At that stage, the title of the new body would be announced.
The new company aims to combine SoFA’s expertise in examination preparation and continued learning with the LIA’s experience of business/client-facing skills development and regional network, and the representational and campaigning skills of both bodies. In addition, there would be one set of designations, removing consumer confusion.
The new body would be structured as a company limited by guarantee (the current constitution of LIA and SoFA). The board would have a majority of non-executive member directors, four from SoFA and four from the LIA. Bob Bullivant, SoFA Managing Director would become Executive Chairman and Mark Ommanney, LIA Director General would become Chief Executive. LIA Finance Director, Andrew Clarke would take up that role on the new Board and the LIA’s John Ellis would become Public Affairs Director. CII director general Sandy Scott would be a non-executive director.
Commenting on the proposed merger, Mark Ommanney said: “Based on membership research from both bodies and also informal discussion, we believe that there will be strong support for the merger. Financial advisers would benefit enormously from one professional body representing their interests at all levels. There would be less confusion, while at the same time the single body would have more authority to speak for advisers. In addition, a single body would have a greater financial resource to deliver services to its members. It is the right move for the financial planning sector and also for the current memberships.”
Bob Bullivant added: “The new body will be the obvious organisation for any financial adviser to join. It will not only unify the existing memberships and resources, but also have strong appeal to potential members who are currently confused by competing professional body propositions. Over half of the current financial adviser sector do not belong to any professional body at all. As part of the CII family, the new body would have the resources to achieve the vision of one professional body for all financial advisers, developing a powerful proposition to the public that they should deal with a qualified financial adviser who has voluntarily agreed to abide by the professional standards which membership of such a body implies.”