Darren Cooke  

The CII has been trying to wrest control of the PFS for quite some time

Darren Cooke

Darren Cooke

I suspect I am like many of you – I am not the most active member of the Personal Finance Society.

I pay my annual subs and get my statement of professional standing but that is about all; I have not been to a regional event in a long time, although I did attend the festival last November. I have also contributed to, and taken part in, some of the 'power planning' content in the past. 

I wish they did not rely on providers so much for events, but those are the commercial realities. In the past 10 years the direction of travel for the PFS has been positive in improving general standards, professionalism as well as qualifications, not to forget the work they do in schools through the education champions, and for ex-forces personnel with Forces MoneyPlan. 

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I still consider it to be my professional body though. 

I have been following the unfolding fall out between the Chartered Insurance Institute and PFS – which seems to be coming to a head – for many, many months.

Despite the CII’s recent statements you only need to go back on the news sites to see that it has been trying to wrest control of the PFS for quite some time.

Its actions have become more concerted, and desperate, culminating in the news that it was going to appoint directors to the PFS board and take control by force.

This was under the guise of the PFS board having acted inappropriately and outside of its remit to such an extent that the CII has to step in and take control.

All of this has been staunchly and robustly denied by the PFS board. So far the CII has provided precious little evidence of these failings beyond the original accusations.

Statements issued by its director of communications dispelling the ‘myths’ around the appointments are, frankly, laughable, and most are easy to dismiss as not myths but facts. For example the claims that the CII does not plan to deregister the PFS, despite three previous attempts to do just that in the recent past. 

The CII has singularly failed to reform and account for changes in the insurance industry. It has too many staff on overly generous remuneration packages – including a ruinously expensive defined benefit pension scheme – for the business it should now be running, and it has undercharged CII members for its services at the same time.

The PFS on the other hand is in a very healthy financial position thanks to the prudent work of the PFS board and chief executives, not least Keith Richards. 

I do not need a calculator to make two plus two equal four.

So why does the PFS stay? We get two main benefits from the CII: chartered status and the examining body.