Industry calls for 'long overdue' protection trade body

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Industry experts are calling for the formation of a specialist trade body to fill the need in the protection industry for a unified voice.

Aviva and a former IFA Association leader (now known as Association of Professional Financial Advisers) have backed LifeSearch's statement recently that a protection trade body was important and long overdue.

Richard Verdin, director of protection at Aviva, said: "There is an awful lot of stuff going on in the protection industry and unless you specialise in the important issues then it tends to not get dealt with. But we do need a representative voice."

But he added a trade body needed critical mass and financial viability so the wrong thing to do would be to set up a separate body on its own.

Verdin said there was scope for such a group to sit inside an existing intermediary body - such as APFA - in the same way providers have within the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

Garry Heath, leader of the former IFA Association between 1989 and 1999, said: "Protection has never been as well represented but it should be. We had a mini body within the IFA Association during my time there that lobbied about the terrible situation with critical illness definitions.

"A body to specialise in protection is a good idea. But it would need critical mass and if it just consists of intermediaries it would not make it. However there is a lot to be said for a joined-up voice with providers and intermediaries."

He added management, staffing and financial structures would be crucial to justify the body's aims with APFA the obvious choice to take it on.

Tom Baigrie, chief executive of LifeSearch, said: "If the structure is right a protection trade body is more than feasible, and more importantly long overdue.

"The protection industry isn't always aligned in its thinking but this is an area where everyone seems to be agreed. The protection industry needs greater representation, especially for intermediaries. The time is right and there are various discussions taking place. It is early days in terms of anything formal. But where there is a will there a way."

The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI) has been in talks with various parties about potentially forming a protection arm.

Robert Sinclair, chief executive of AMI, said: "We are looking at how this could be possible. At the moment we are reviewing how it could work but there is nothing established just yet."

Industry opinion suggests something concrete will develop by the end of the year.

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