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What really matters

Consumers value qualifications over independence and it’s no surprise

By Holly Black | Published Jul 17, 2012 | comments

What is it with us Brits and qualifications?

We love people with degrees and letters after their names, PhDs and BScs and OMGs. Even if we are not entirely sure what they mean.

Having read today that, according to new research, most consumers would value adviser qualifications over independent status, I would like to say I am surprised. Show a consumer a young adviser who has gained Chartered status or CFP accreditation and watch them sign the contract; an independent IFA with 30 years’ industry experience, skimming the pages of their CF2 exam textbook, not so much.

It isn’t our fault, of course. We’ve been conditioned to value numbers, letters and achievement, and, to be fair, to an extent it is a sign of competence. But there are other factors that are equally important when choosing a financial adviser.

What about trusting someone, having a rapport with them and believing in their advice? What about cost, location, flexibility and product knowledge?

At the heart of the RDR there are some good ideas but I can’t help thinking it would be a shame if the culture of qualification-centricness that is so widespread elsewhere spreads into an industry where other factors are so much more important. And besides, of those consumers surveyed, how many of them actually knew what CFP meant, or even stood for?

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