Advisor Speak 12th Sep 2012
A role model for state level IFA associations
Oommen Panicker and Suresh Nair, AKIFAA

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At a time when IFAs in many states are coming together to form state level IFA associations, All Kerala IFA Association (AKIFAA) shows the way on how to structure a truly democratic and inclusive state level IFA association. Oommen Panicker - President and Suresh Nair - General Secretary of AKIFAA, take us through how they have created their unique IFA Association - which we believe can be a role model for all state level IFA associations that are being set up. Our thanks to Mr. Ramesh Bhat of IFA Galaxy, for throwing light on AKIFAA's unique and exemplary structure.

WF: Your association is being widely regarded as a role model in terms of how to create a truly representative IFA Association. Do take us through all the invaluable inputs that helped you formulate this association in terms of legal structure, fee configuration and guide us about how you made it an inclusive and democratic body.

Panicker and Nair: The All Kerala IFA Association was established in July 2009 as a body registered under Travancore-Cochin Literary Scientific and Charitable Societies Registration Act-1955 under registration number T-1056/09 dated 22nd July, 2009 with its registered office at Trivandrum. We started with just about 14 members and have now expanded to 200 members with 3 zonal units functioning at Trivandrum, Ernakulum and Calicut. Each unit has IFAs from up to five districts in one zonal committee and effectively there are three zonal committees under one State IFA Association. Each zonal committee has its own governing body and its own executive members.

WF: Could you outline the geographical jurisdiction of the Zonal Committees and number of members in each zone.

Panicker and Nair: At the ground level we have district IFA members. Members from about 3 to 5 districts form a Zonal Committee. Basically we have divided the state into three zones which include :

  1. South Zone- Trivandrum, Kollam, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha

  2. Central Zone- Kottayam, Idukki, Ernakulam and Thrissur

  3. North Zone- Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasargod.

The combined membership of the various zones consists of about 200 members and roughly there are 70 to 75 IFA members in each zone. The Zonal Committee members then elect the Zonal President, Secretary, Treasurer, a Vice President, a Joint Secretary and 2 executive members for a term of two years.

The District Committees have a similar executive committee as that of the zones. There are 7 to 9 elected members that form the executive committee for each district or zone. The main functions of the zonal committees are conducting regular monthly meetings and knowledge seminars and coordinating tie ups with the AMCs for educational initiatives that can empower our members.

WF: How does that roll up to the State Committee?

Panicker and Nair: AKIFAA has members from all the 14 districts of Kerala. AKIFAA is probably the only truly State Level organisation which represents the IFA Community across the state and which has a democratically elected governing body.

The term of the State executive committee is also 2 years like the zonal executive committee. The Presidents of all 3 zonal committees automatically become executive members of the State Committee. The other executive members of the State Committee are elected by the Association members by way of a ballot in a general body meeting. There is at present no bar to prohibit anybody from being re-elected any number of times.

WF: Do all 200 IFAs participate in the election process or only the executive members?

Panicker and Nair: All the members irrespective of the zone are entitled to participate in the Annual General Body Meet. All 200 members are equal and everybody can vote for the State Committee executive members and not merely the zonal committee office bearers. The minimum quorum is generally about 80 though more than 100 members attend our General Body Meet.

At the time of general body meet we also organise mega events. Last time our mega event was at Kochi where along with the General Body meet we had the IFA Galaxy knowledge event.

WF: Is there any provision for office bearers to be nominated rather than coming in through the ballot process?

Panicker and Nair: Mostly the members are elected but according to the provisions of the bye laws if we think that somebody can contribute something extra for the development of the whole association we can nominate that person as one of the members of the committee, but he will not have voting power in the committee.

WF: One of the big issues in managing associations is really the power issues that can crop up between individuals on the Board or the executive committee. How have you guarded against that and made sure that people stay focused on adding value to each other?

Panicker and Nair: Fortunately for us such power struggles have not been manifested and everything is done amicably and in a friendly atmosphere. This definitely is one big plus point that comes through in this democratically elected association and which is also run on democratic lines. You see if you structure an organization correctly then automatically such issues will not come to the forefront.

WF: What is the principle aim of the association?

Panicker and Nair: The main objective of the Association is to promote and activate the IFAs and empower them with professional knowledge and expertise. With this in mind we have been organising various activities such as training programs, exchange of business promotion ideas, updating members on regulatory changes and how they impact business, updating and communicating with members through newsletters and our own website ( ) and also coordinating with AMC relationship managers for knowledge initiatives. We also encourage members to share their field experience during the regular monthly meetings and organise family get-togethers for members.

WF: What is your membership fee structure ?

Panicker and Nair: We have 200 paid members and our membership fee is one time payment of Rs.1000/- and that is the regular membership and not a life membership fee. In addition to that there is a provision that empowers zonal committees to charge a certain amount which is fixed judiciously by them and each zone can fix a different membership amount. Out of that fixed amount the zones have to pass 20% of the membership fee to the state committee but this provision is presently not utilized as all common expenses are met by the State Committee. The Zonal Committees also have the freedom to organise fund mobilisation campaigns and to seek sponsorship for the various programmes organised and conducted by them. Plans are also afoot to levy an annual subscription fee which will be shared between the State and the Zonal Committees.

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