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IFP probes pre-2013 Certified Financial Planner course

The Institute of Financial Planning has been investigating concerns raised by advisers over the association’s pre-2013 process for becoming a certified financial planner, Steve Gazzard has confirmed.

The chief executive officer of the professional planning association revealed that an internal working group has been set up to look into criticisms brought by advisers about the previous qualifications system for CFP status.

Among those who have complained about the process is Tina Weeks, co-founder of London-based Serenity Financial Planning, who had previously described the older CFP process as an “unfair and painful journey” online.

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Phil Calvert, founder of the online advisory network Life Talk, also questioned “inconsistent marking” in the system.

Mr Gazzard said external experts in education were brought in to help draw up an action plan, with “a number of steps already taken” to improve the previous process.

He said: “We want the IFP to continue to be as highly rated as it has been in the past, which is why we set up a working group to look into these issues. This is such an important aspect of what the IFP does and we had to make sure we were responding to candidates’ concerns.”

The previous course only assessed candidates on a given case study, in which planners completed a report outlining what was best for the client in question, but the new FPSB UK Diploma in financial planning now incorporates an exam. Mr Gazzard said standards had been “completely rewritten” for the new system, admitting that it allowed examiners to give candidates “more meaningful feedback”.

The IFP has also enlisted advisers, including Ms Weeks, to try out a revamped e-learning programme, which is aimed at improving the pass rate for advisers taking the new diploma. The elearning programme is set to be launch in a matter of weeks, Mr Gazzard said.

He added: “Education cannot be imposed on anyone who is taking a qualification, but we want to encourage people to go through the training, and that is why we provide the materials and courses in a format that candidates want, and this should really improve their chances.”