In December there were 9,647 approved persons working for IFA networks, down 5.8% from 10,245 in November, while individual IFA businesses saw approved persons figures drop 4.2% to 17,208 in December, from 17961 in November.
Figures for January, which will be available in February, will give a better indication of whether IFA firms and networks have seen significant outflows of approved persons in line with RDR.
But as not all approved persons are necessarily qualified to give advice, the issue will require greater exploration.
Olly Laughton- Scott, founding partner at IMAS Corporate Finance, which compiled the statistics, said there were two things at play.
“One of those is definitely a decline, but also firms are deciding to not register or to de-register employees who they believe, having thought about it, do not need to be registered. Looking to staff and saying are some of these people not dealing with clients? These people may stay in the business they just do not have approved status.”
An exception to the general trend of decline in approved persons is St James’s Place, which saw its approved persons total increase 15.5% year-on-year in December and a monthly increase of 2%.
St James’s Place has 2,803 approved persons in total and has seen a steady incline since 2007, having witnessed a plateau from 2002 to 2007. Since December 2007 it has added more than 1,000 approved persons to the business.
Comparably, Brewin Dolphin saw its number of approved persons peak in December 2008 at 690 and now has 598. Coutts and Co also peaked in 2008 with 516 approved persons, but has seen a decline since then, with a particular drop off since December 2011. It now has only 301 approved persons.
More widely, the total number of approved persons in the financial services sector has also continued to fall, from 153,728 in November to 151,835 in December – a decrease of 1,893.