Review backs trade body mega merger

Some of financial services most influential trade bodies could be set to merge after a major report laid out four options for reform.

The options for better collaboration and a more effective lobbying voice for the financial services industry range from no change to full consolidation of 12 trade bodies.

Former Ofcom boss Ed Richards, who is leading the review, has made no formal recommendation at this stage. However, he says the two halfway-house options are “most likely to offer the right balance between securing enhanced effectiveness while minimising the risks associated with increased scale and scope”.

These options would both bring together the British Banking Association, the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association, the UK Cards Association, Payments UK and UK Payments Administration as a single, integrated trade association.

The two favoured options are distinguished by whether or not the Asset Based Finance Association and the Finance and Leasing Association would also be included.

Both plans would leave the Wealth Management Association, the Investment Association and the Tax Incentivised Savings Association as distinct individual trade bodies.

However, the wealth and asset management groups would still be expected to offer improved collaboration to members.

Richards is seeking responses to the proposals by the end of September, ahead of conducting further cost-benefit analysis before ultimately providing final recommendations.

The paper follows up on a January document that had previously proposed either full integration or better alignment of trade associations operating in similar areas.

Council of Mortgage Lenders director general Paul Smee says: “The scope of this review means that mortgage lending is only one of a number of services under consideration.

“The wide range of members of the various trade bodies will need to consider their responses in the round to this consultation. Our focus, meanwhile, is to deliver the best possible mortgage-related trade body services, whatever the overall trade body landscape.”

Rob Sinclair, chief executive of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries, which is not included in the proposals, adds he is concerned the proposals could reduce the ability to gain traction for mortgage specific issues in lobbying.

“You could lose the specialist expertise that certainly exists within those organisations,” he says.