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'Clear desire for financial planning body': advisers speak out about PFS plans

'Clear desire for financial planning body': advisers speak out about PFS plans

Financial advisers are disappointed at the Chartered Insurance Industry's plans to deregister the Personal Finance Society and some warn members may vote with their feet.

The CII has again asked the PFS board to consider a deregistration of the adviser-focused body following unsuccessful attempts in 2016 and 2019, leading to the departure of chief executive Keith Richards in April.

But advisers have hit back, saying the move could see some members switch to rival professional body the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment should it go ahead.

Philip J Milton, chartered wealth manager at Philip J Milton & Company and fellow of the PFS, said: “We’d be against any devaluation of our status and for the industry. 

“Over the years, it seems a number of trade entities have capitalised on the regulatory demands to create giant entities and charge big fees to members who have to participate and do examinations and in themselves have created bug fiefdoms perhaps removed from the very membership they represent.”

His son Felix Milton, a chartered financial adviser, said the CII’s decision to deregister was a step backwards and would ultimately end up “losing the existing PFS members”.

He said: “Whilst it may save the CII some costs, members are paying for that through their renewal fees as well as increased exam costs. 

“There’s a clear desire for a financial planning only body and as such, keeping the registration makes sense. If the CII deregisters it, the CISI I am sure will move in and fill the gap left.”

Milton said he would give the PFS a chance to prove itself before leaving but added he was "really impressed" by what CISI offered to him as a student member.

Likewise, Tim Morris, IFA at Russell & Co Financial Advisers, who has been a member of the CII for nearly 15 years, said: “If it means a less relevant body for financial advice, that can’t be a good thing for anyone."

Morris thinks the CII is "not fully focussed on financial advice".

He said: "You only have to attend a few of their CPD events and this becomes clear. 

“The latest news only goes to reinforce that view. As did the online exam debacle. It makes me feel the CII view advisers as a cash cow.”

Morris also said the CII had failed to take action against members involved in scandals such as the British Steel pension transfer debacle, which he said risked damaging the reputation of the profession. 

“It suggests tackling reckless behaviour is not a priority,” he added.

Commenting on the departure of PFS chief executive Keith Richards, he said losing a figure with “knowledge and influence” and not replacing him with someone of similar standing was a “damning indictment upon the profession”. 

But Sian Fisher, chief executive of the CII, said the CII was committed to the continued development of the PFS.