In order that we can play an influential role in the shaping of the adviser profession, we are active members of our trade body, PIMFA, the UK’s Personal Investment Management & Financial Advice Association. PIMFA was formerly APFA – the Association of Independent Financial Advisers and before that AIFA – Association of Independent Financial Advisers. West Riding’s Managing Director Neil Liversidge was first elected to the AIFA Board in 2010.
We have our idea of what the adviser profession should ideally look like and other have their own view, to which they are entitled. Our sincere belief is that the public is best served by small independent firms like our own, firms run by owner-managers whose lives are invested in the business. West Riding is a small firm in the regulator’s language, but we’ve been going since 2004 and we manage some £80m for clients UK-wide. Even so, we remain family-owned and we aren’t a franchise or part of any adviser ‘network.’
We’ve come to realise over the years that the larger firms and networks tend to resent the competitive advantages that successful smaller firms like ours possess. There have been suggestions that small firms like ours should be forced into becoming network members. Unsurprisingly such suggestions come from the bosses of large national firms and the networks themselves.
When circumstances change, smaller firms can quickly adapt. We’re like a speedboat, able to change direction quickly. The large firms are like enormous oil tankers, taking far longer to change direction when necessary, and the networks are even slower, because they have to keep their members on-side. Networks and nationals alike are disproportionately expensive to run owing to their bloated management structures, plush city-centre offices, and the high cost of running compliance operations able to oversee large numbers of advisers who don’t have the same proportionate stake in the business that their counterparts have in small firms. Those higher running costs translate into higher fees for clients.