IFAP members 'realise value of online leads'

-Annual survey reveals member IFA satisfaction with IFAP activity

-46% cite the ‘Find an IFA’ web service as a main membership benefit – an increase of 12% on 2004 findings

-Four in five satisfied with IFAP’s work to raise awareness and educate consumers on depolarisation

This is an increase of 12% on figures for 2004. This is according to the fourth annual IFAP member survey, analysed by independent research agency Consensus. In addition, of those members who expressed an opinion on the issue, almost four in five are satisfied with IFAP’s efforts to educate consumers and support independence throughout the convoluted process of depolarisation last year.

The survey also reveals that a massive 78% of all consumer leads generated via IFAP’s websites, white label ‘Find an IFA’ search tools and free phone hotline number resulted in business for local member IFAs – thus helping to explain why the ‘Find an IFA’ referral service is regarded a core benefit of membership by so many members.

Furthermore, the research demonstrates that:

-73% of member IFAs acknowledged the referrals they received from IFAP during the last year, with 56% receiving between 1 and 5 new business leads, and 17% gaining 6 or more. The vast majority of these leads were from consumers, with 5% from businesses.

-Similar to previous years, 61% of member IFAs view use of the independent financial adviser blue pound sign roundel as a key IFAP member benefit, with 82% perceiving this as the symbol of independent financial advice.

David Elms, chief executive of IFAP commented: “2005, the year of depolarisation, posed challenges for all in the market for financial advice. However, the independent financial advice sector has continued to thrive and last year, the volume of new business leads generated by IFAP shot up to over half a million. What is more, the quality of these leads has been maintained. The web of course played a fundamental part in this, so naturally we are delighted that such a healthy share of our membership acknowledges the benefits of our online referral tools”

“In an era when the internet has become the financial advice-seekers tool of choice, it is vital that the IFA market keep pace. However, whilst it is encouraging that nearly a third of our members have signed up to our Online Marketing Package, as it is a means to enhance individual online search entries, and make them stand out to potential new clients, the fact that four in ten of our members are yet to list a website with us is truly baffling”

The survey explored further into views on the various ancillary activities and services offered by IFAP, and showed that:

-Over 6 in 10 (61%) member IFAs support IFAP’s Media Services initiative

-39% of member IFAs expressed interest in becoming involved with IFAP’s regional Press Clubs, which work with local media to promote local independent advice

-85% of recipients find IFAP’s bi-monthly Update newsletter useful

Elms continued “This year’s member survey is brimming with positive feedback and confirms that IFAs throughout the UK are recognising the broad spectrum of IFAP member benefits. We are particularly proud of the fact that, given the sensitivities of depolarisation, such a large majority of members appreciated our efforts to ‘cut through the clutter’ for consumers and continue to raise a positive profile for independent financial advice overall.

“The first quarter of 2006 has proved extremely encouraging - with total numbers of consumers requesting details of a local IFA up 12% on the first quarter of 2005. We therefore approach the rest of the year confidently in the knowledge we have our members’ full support for the wide-ranging marketing programme IFAP carries out on their behalf.”