SIFA plans "hotline" for financial advice

Mick Kavanagh reports

A panel of more than a dozen regional law firms have signed up to lead a drive to encourage the take-up of financial services business across the profession.

The scheme, established by Solicitors for Independent Financial Advice (Sifa), will offer other firms "mother hen" advice and consultancy to help establish themselves in the field.

Sifa is also negotiating with a range of leading product providers to sponsor the funding of a scheme to establish a "hotline" for consumers seeking details of firms offering discrete investment services.

Full details of the schemes will be unveiled at a conference for law firms later this month. Ian Muirhead, Sifa's managing director, says the key elements and participants of both schemes have been confirmed.

The panel of firms will be free to reach introductory arrangements with other firms protected by anti-poaching clauses, which may seek to "refer up" business for clients.

The firms have been selected as "benchmark" models of law firms with well-established

financial services operations willing to provide training and logistical support.

Sifa is liaising with these firms, the Law Society and product providers in order to develop training programmes for solicitors which will help them qualify to transact business under revised Law Society rules.

Solicitors' firms on the panel include Thrings & Long of Bath; Townsends of Swindon; Kidd Rapinet of Maidenhead; Nelson Johnson and Hastings of Nottingham; Lodder & Sons of Warwickshire; Lupton Fawcett; Richmonds of Worksop; Glaisyers Glickman of Manchester; Overbury Steward & Eaton of Norwich; Leigh Williams of Bromley; Coole & Haddock of Horsham; Walmsley & Barnes of Broadstairs; Addison Sons & Madden of Portsmouth; Harrison Townend & Ormeshers of Hyde.

Product providers which have so far confirmed their support for the register and hotline for solicitor "IFAs" are: Allied Dunbar; Standard Life; Prudential; Commercial Union; Axa Equity & Law; Skandia Life; Scottish Equitable; and Murray Johnstone.

The conference takes place in London on 25 October. Details on 071 404 1444