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What's in a name?

Can the Society of Independent Financial Advisers continue to use the name following the Advertising Standards Complaints Board decision on the definition of independence?

Tuesday, April 21st 1998, 12:00AM

by Philip Macalister

Here's a curly question for advisers in the wake of the infamous Advertising Standards Complaints Board (ASCB) ruling on independence. Can members of the Society of Independent Investment Advisers (SIFA) continue to market themselves as independent?
According to the ASCB any adviser who accepts commissions or fees for selling a product can't be called independent - which really means there are very few truly independent (in the board's mind) advisers in New Zealand.
SIFA chairman Murray Weatherston says there's a bit of a sting in the tail for SIFA from that decision, and he suggests (tongue firmly in cheek) that maybe the association should change its name to SUFA - the Society of Unbiased Financial Advisers.

Weatherston says it is an issue for the association and it will probably get aired at its conference in Wellington next week.
However, he believes it should not be too major an issue as members are neither marketing nor advertising on the theme of independence.
One thing SIFA had done, which few others in the industry had, is actually define independence.
Its rules say that independence is "the ability to provide the public with a choice from a range of financial and insurance products without obligation to meet production requirements of the product providers."
While the definition is different to that handed down by the ASCB it shouldn't be an issue, Weatherston says.
When the association was formed independence was a key issue for members, however it has waned in importance over the years.
Weatherston says independence to SIFA members is not about fees and commissions, but about whether fund managers or life offices provided advisers with soft loans, or whether they set quotas on product sales.
He is unaware of any complaints being made to the ASCB about SIFA members and independence.
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