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Merger mayhem

Financial planners call for a special general meeting of their association

Friday, November 21st 1997, 12:00AM

by Philip Macalister

A powerful group of financial planners has called for a special general meeting of the Association of Investment Advisers and Financial Planners (IAFP) as they believe their board is trying to derail the proposed merger with the Insurance and Investment Advisers Association (IIAA).
IAFP member Paul Forder says a petition requesting a meeting on December 17 was given to association manager Vicki Manchester yesterday. He says 8O members, or about a quarter of the practising financial planners, had signed the notice.

Forder says members are concerned the proposed merger is being pushed further and further back, that there is no certainty the marriage will proceed and that communication with members has been poor.
He says the shape of the merger is changing and is quite different to the mandate members gave the board at a series of special meetings last year.
"Members are becoming more certain they want the merger to proceed," he says.
There is also concern about the board's earlier decision to dump Gary Stevens and Philip Matthews as IAFP representatives on the working party negotiating the merger, and replace them with chairman Rodger Spiller and deputy chairman Mark Hubber.
Stevens, who is also part of the group asking for a meeting, says there is huge concern amongst the membership about what is happening.
"The feeling is that things are not proceeding the way members might expect. There's feedback that there's a move to revisit some things members have agreed to."
He says there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that the IAFP board are trying to stop the merger proceeding, despite the membership indicating a union of the two groups is desirable.
Representatives from the two associations met on Wednesday to discuss the merger, however no announcement has yet been made on where negotiations are at.
Good Returns understands facilitator Steve Smith of Price Waterhouse, put forward a proposal for the merger to take place under a federation structure, rather than a college.
Forder says such a structure was considered earlier and ruled out by the working group as it didn't achieve the desired outcomes and added an extra layer of costs.
The meeting request details five resolutions including the need to address the issues and reappoint the original working party members.
Forder hopes the issues will be resolved before Christmas so the merger can take place by April 1 next year. He says if it is delayed past that date (which is the start of the financial year) the prospects for the association are not good as funding will be difficult to source and many IAFP members are now openly talking about resigning from the association.
"People are saying to me that they won't remain IAFP members if the merger doesn't go ahead."
IIAA president Ian Clark says some decisions were made on Wednesday which affect the direction of the proposed merger.
He says the merger hasn't been called off, and IIAA members will find out the details early next week.
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