Membership fees alone are no longer sufficient to fund all the activities that a member of a trade association expects.

This is according to trade organisation MVRA managing director Mike Monaghan, who said associations needed an investment in technology and an investment in human resources and this could not be provided purely from membership fees.

"Trade Associations need to think more laterally and commercially," he said.

A spokesman for the Trade Association Forum echoed this, saying associations were definitely changing and becoming more commercial and business conscious. "There is an emphasis on providing a more value-added service," he said.

Motor Trade Solutions chairman Mike Slack, who used to be with the Association of Insurance Intermediaries and Brokers (AIIB), said membership fees never funded all the elements members expected from a trade association. "Many people don't join trade associations and sit back and let others do the work. Take the General Insurance Standards Council (GISC) for example - all brokers benefit from it whether they join or not. A successful trade association must be an amalgamation of all people's efforts," he said.