The Chartered Insurance Institute has backed down after launching a pilot unit exclusively for one advice company caused a furore among the adviser community.
But what prompted the U-turn and why was the pilot controversial?
The CII had been working with St James’s Place to launch a level six inclusive financial planning unit tailored to advisers working with vulnerable clients, with the intention of launching it to the wider market after two years.
But in mid-September the CII confirmed it would now be opening the pilot to the wider membership in response to adviser backlash at the prospects of it being exclusive to SJP.
A spokesperson for the CII says: “We fully understand the initial reaction and criticism regarding this unit being positioned as exclusive to SJP when in fact it was the launch of a pilot with the CII working in collaboration with SJP.”
The spokesperson adds: “Other coursework-based units are £465, but this is a pilot unit, so £350 will be charged with the aim of accelerating the completion of the testing period to make sure this unit is widely available to all CII members as soon as possible.”
The CII says SJP invested into developing the pilot unit, but the CII declined to disclose the size of the investment.
The pilot unit is intended to help financial advisers reach their chartered status.
But has the industry supported the opening of the unit?
• The CII recently backed down over the launch of a exclusive pilot qualification with SJP.
• Advisers responded strongly to the news.
• Vulnerability is becoming a big issue for financial advisers.
Most advisers have welcomed the CII’s decision to launch the unit, but noted they found the initial exclusivity to be unfair.
David Bebb, chartered financial planner at Pannells Financial Planning, says: “I fully support the decision. I can only see it as a positive to open this unit for the wider adviser community, ultimately to help raise standards across the profession instead of within just one business.”
Sesame Bankhall Group recently developed an apprenticeship scheme in collaboration with Simply Academy, also welcomed the move.
“It is good to see the CII broadening its approach with the development and roll-out of its new qualification,” says a Sesame Bankhall spokesperson.
“Demand for further knowledge on the effective support of vulnerable customers is high-up on advisers’ agenda. This is something we are also responding to by increasing the support available for advisers through our training and development programme.”
But the launch raised the question whether an institution such as the CII should be developing an exclusive qualification with an advice company in the first place.
The Chartered Institute for Securities and Investments says it does not offer exclusive exam deals with anyone.