“I think it was coincidental, although perhaps we all felt that added a further reason to set up Feifa,” he told International Adviser.
Having owned and been a director of an advisory business for many years, Stanfield left his firm around September 2008 with the intention of enjoying a long sabbatical.
But Spectrum IFA Group chief executive Michael Lodhi approached him in November of that year with the idea of setting up some representation for English-speaking advisers in Europe.
“Michael was arguably the man who helmed the idea,” Stanfield said.
What followed was a meeting in February 2009; between Stanfield, Lodhi and other individuals who later became founding members of the non-profit trade organisation.
Three months later, on 5 May 2009, Feifa was launched.
“The key general goal of setting it up was to raise standards, specifically around advice and professionalism,” Stanfield added.
“I would say that is still very much a goal and pretty much a part of everything that we do.”
Looking back over the past decade, one area of particular pride is “the increasing appetite within our membership for professional development, training and education”.
Taken on a calendar-year basis, he said that membership of the organisation has been higher at the end of every year than it was at the beginning.
“The importance of representation is something I probably underappreciated before we set up Feifa. But I realise now that, if the adviser sector is well represented, things that impact on the sector, such as regulation, can be more workable than they might otherwise be.”
While he does see the potential for the number of member firms to grow further, “it will plateau at some point”.
“Increased regulation tends to lead to consolidation, and there is a feeling that M&A activity has gathered some pace in the last two or three years.”
Looking forward to the next 10 years, Stanfield said: “The need for continuing professional development is only going to grow, which is a key area where Feifa can continue to help its membership.
“Regulation is unlikely to lessen and that is another key area where we help our members firms.”
Above and beyond the practical support, Stanfield is proud of the community that Feifa has helped establish. “Many of our member firms share issues, concerns and solutions, not least at our annual conference.
“A lot of the feedback that we get from attendees is that they value networking with their peers as much as they do the content and technical aspects of the day.
“Going back to before Feifa formed, very little of that took place. It’s not just down to Feifa but we’ve certainly had a hand to play in Europe in terms of changing attitudes in a way that is beneficial for all and much more professional.”