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New IFA Trade body Libertatem launches to bring clarity back to sector and ensure survival of impartial advice

New Industry trade body

17 May 2015

Garry Heath, former Director General of The IFA Association, announces the launch of Libertatem, a new trade association set up to represent financial advisers, both independent and restricted, planners and wealth managers across the UK. Bento asked him about his plans

Over the last decade the industry has lost sight of why access to impartial advice is so important to consumers. Instead we have become supine and apologetic for our own existence. We believe now is the time for a new trade association to bring a more positive future for both advisers and consumers by promoting how much social benefit the independent sector creates.

The timing could not be better. The General Election has given us a majority Conservative government, so for the first time in 5 years, we have a golden opportunity to return accountability to regulation, to cut its costs and its intrusiveness and to ensure that the maximum number of advisers are available to our fellow citizens.

The Government expended much of its election rhetoric on deregulation. It is now time for rhetoric to become action. There are no more excuses.

Many MPs are very concerned about the destructiveness and cost of regulation as well as its unaccountability to Parliament. Libertatem will be encouraging its members to meet their MPs and canvass their support for change.  The FCA’s budget has increased ten-fold since 1999.

One of our early targets will be Trail Commission. The Heath Report[EF1] [F2]  indicated that the removal of RDR in 2016 would create a further loss of advisers in the industry, between 20% - 40%.  Panacea’s survey indicated bigger losses than that. Either way existing consumers simply cannot be abandoned without servicing or further advice so that regulators can hide their blushes and complete their social experiment. 

Proper regulation is vital but it must be proportionate. RDR claimed it would save consumer £223m pa. RDR is costing consumers in excess of £340m and even the FCA’s own consultants could find no evidence of consumer benefit.

As importantly RDR allowed the regulator to insert itself between the adviser and the client. Once that it accepted how long will it be before this unaccountable regulator seeks to control the level of fees? They already have plans to change how they are expressed.

Historically 16m consumers were able to access our advice when they needed it and pay for it over time. RDR has risked killing off access to advice for ‘Middle England’. We need to find a new solution for the mass market.

At a time when individual responsibility for personal financial well-being is growing and Pension Freedoms have been introduced; the role of advice is more important than ever to the financial future of millions of consumers. We need more advisers advising a wider range of clients.

Instead we face losing more and creating a spiral of decline in which the costs of regulation and compensation are visited on far fewer firms

We want to bring focus back to the industry and clear representation. Libertatem has a strong, experienced team behind it, and it is our role, as representatives of the industry and as agents of the client to be proactive and work with regulators and the government to come up with solutions.

We will seek to create policy ideas not just react to the policies of others

The new association aims to:

  • be a clearer voice for adviser firms within the regulatory and political framework in the UK and address the challenges they face
  • ensure the survival of a strong advisory sector which provides access to impartial advice to the broadest section of society
  • We wish to create an effective trade association fit for the 21st century, based on the principles of excellent advice to clients who wish to improve their personal and family independence.
  • We will create a democratic structure that will seek to represent the widest numbers and types of advisers in a proactive and positive way.
  • We wish to encourage the provision of financial advice to the maximum number of our fellow citizens.
  • We will promote the creation of a cost effective, joined up and client facing regulatory system directly responsible either to the Parliament that created it or those who pay for it.
  • We are not about living in the past

Membership to Libertatem – first year subscription costs

Libertatem Subscription List






Per firm



1st Adviser






1-man band



2-man band



3-man band



4-man band



5-man band



6-man band



7-man band



8-man band



9-man band



10-man band




To enable the association to deliver a good service and quality representation we need members and we need them now.

We aim to represent 20% of IFA[EF3]  firms in the first 12 months and to grow our membership base from there. Members must be businesses and regulated by the FCA or/and the PRA.  [EF4] 

Businesses looking for more information about Libertatem or who wish to sign up to can go to:

Membership forms are available to download:

Please join us

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Comments (11)

And that name is supposed to resonate with the public and MPs?

Richard Brown   18/05/2015   10:24
Nice one, Richard, let's make sure that the first comment is a negative one!
Great idea, Garry, the industry needs a trade association with some teeth, so good luck to you is what I say, and who cares what the name is!

Clive Matthews   18/05/2015   13:57
Clive, I am sorry if my comment is to the point. Since making it another IFA has agreed with me. To me, the name sounds more like an American university frat house than a body for a worthy profession.

Having worked in financial services since 1972, I've seen many IFA organisations come and go. Not one of them so far has commanded the full respect of the community outside (or even inside) IFA circles. Many of them have been more about egos than the job in hand.

If you want a good trade body, BIBA is a stellar example of what one should be, with respect from No. 10, MPs, the regulator and the press, for all of which it is the "go to" body.

Richard Brown   18/05/2015   14:25
The name firstly hints at our approach Independence and Freedom.

However there was a practical issue - There are only so many combinations of "Independent", "Financial" and "Advisers" and we have used them up. Anyway we haven't we had enough of the alphabet soup.

Canada's IFA Association has a name Advocis and it works very well for them.

Suggest we have bigger issues to concentrate on than the name.

Garry Heath   18/05/2015   16:06
Exactly Garry. Do for us what BIBA does for its members and you'll have a thriving organisation.

Richard Brown   18/05/2015   17:47
Interesting Comment Richard.

20 years ago BI(I)BA was such a poor tool their financial services companies elected to join IFAA.

I must look at what they are up to nowadays. Thanks for the tip

Garry Heath   18/05/2015   19:09
Yet again I see that there is a predilection to play fast and loose with definitions.
Can you truly be impartial if you are not independent?
Yet again we seem to have a trade body that just wants members rather than true representation of a sector.
If anyone still harbours the belief that Restricted and Independent advisers interests are aligned I for one think they are sadly mistaken.
This statement I know will elicit howls of protest on this forum in particular.

And yes I do also agree that the title isn't exactly ideal - a bit of a mouthful actually. Yet again another back door attempt to imply Independence

Harry Katz   20/05/2015   19:25
Guys I have to live in the real world and have to cover future bases rather than react to them.

IFAs do not define "Independence" the regulator does.

Not long ago we had the suggestion from FCA that if an IFA outsourced cases to expert advisers that they would no longer be seen as independent. Common sense eventually won that one but it shows the exposure of all independents to regulatory redefinition.

Similarly MIFID II is on its way and that currently will define Independent simply as a fees only adviser - unless that definition is changed by the EU which is likely.

By bringing in restricted We accept both the definition issue and that some advisers will develop both types of business in parallel

Impartial is the best collective description of both types of distribution - open to better suggestions if you have any


Garry Heath   21/05/2015   10:21
As it happens I do agree that adviser who outsource should lose their independent label - it just logical.

Harry Katz   21/05/2015   19:51
So your wife's gynaecologist is going to be your brain surgeon then eh Harry?

Garry Heath   21/05/2015   21:22
Not at all the comparison is spurious.

A gynie may REFER to a brain surgeon he then butts out. It is a referral not an outsource. He doesn't interfere with the brain surgeon, nor does he expect a kick back or any other financial consideration as outsourcing advisers do for in effect doing bugger all.

Financial advice (or planning as the IFP prefers to call it) is an holistic discipline where many of the constituent parts interact. One of the most crucial elements is investment (be it in a pension, bond, ISA or anything else) If you canít hack the process then just refer it Ė donít outsource Ė there is a significant difference between the two terms. I still maintain that the regulator was wrong to back down in this case. You have your permissions as per the regulations if you canít fulfil these permissions than you are putting yourself forward as something you are not.

This debate is redolent of our correspondence years ago concerning the capital adequacy. The job is hard and demanding. Trying to featherbed constituents does the industry you wish to represent no credit. It just puts you in the light of trying to hold back standards.

Harry Katz   22/05/2015   11:19


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