There were six resolutions tabled at yesterday's (June 30) AGM, including the contested re-appointment of BDO as auditors and the authorisation of the board to fix their remuneration as the board thinks fit.
For resolutions to pass they must be backed by the majority of votes received.
According to the votes published on July 8, the number of votes for the re-appointment of BDO was 875 (60.30 per cent), against was 576 (39.70 per cent) and the number abstained was 93.
Last week, past presidents of the Personal Financial Society launched a website, calling on advisers to vote against all proposals, especially the accounts and the appointment of the auditor.
At the same time of voting through the CII's proposals, an item of ‘special business’ proposed yesterday by members was dismissed.
Former CII vice president Grant Scott and Robin Melley, chartered financial planner at Matrix Capital Limited, had written to CII independent chairwoman Helen Phillips, stating issues to be debated as “a matter of extreme urgency” under section 47 of the Charter and Bye-laws of the CII.
The item of special business comprised two motions, with the first asking the CII main board to immediately suspend the further implementation of the 2016 Manifesto to allow time for “a proper independent review”.
It said the board should engage an independent auditor to carry out a full, detailed review of the success or otherwise of the manifesto; including detailed answers to the questions that have been raised in correspondence between the membership and the board.
Secondly, it stated that in the event that motion 1 was passed, members proposed a motion of no confidence in the chief executive of the CII and called for her to be suspended until the independent audit report has been considered and members consulted on the findings.
Melley said: “Members are both shocked and angered by the ongoing treatment and contempt shown by the CII and determination of its CEO Sian Fisher to fragment and destroy the hard work and commitment of others.
“The clear strategy to ignore the views of its members and employ a tactic to out vote a motion of no confidence put forward at yesterday’s AGM is further evidence of a leadership that will continue to destroy what little trust remains to achieve its own hidden agenda.
“It is also clear that the CII is heading towards financial ruin and Sian Fisher’s antics and attitude will continue to exacerbate and accelerate the downfall.”
But responding to the proposal, the CII said: “Given the importance of the concerns raised and there being no mechanism at the AGM to fully and frankly discuss the concerns of the members in advance of any vote, the view of the chair was that it would be inappropriate to grant the request.
“The chair did however acknowledge the receipt of the request at the meeting and relayed the essence of the concerns expressed, described the intent of the motion set out and provided assurance to the meeting that the views of the whole membership would be taken on these concerns within the context of wider consultation on membership matters.”
The CII added it was “determined to engage with members” to seek to gain their insights and to seek to continually improve.
CII message to members
During the AGM, Fisher welcomed the questions about the CII's activities and said she appreciated members voting.
“We will answer every question asked and reflect on how we can more effectively engage with members, students and corporate customers moving forward to ensure the CII is their chosen partner to develop their skills and knowledge at every stage of their career.”
She added: “We want to unify the governance structure of the CII to ensure that it works effectively as a group. We never intended 'de-registration' to be confused with wishing to disband the PFS. In fact, the exact opposite.
“We have fully recognised membership at the core of the CII and adopted the societies structure to support our 'Family of Professions'. We are committed to the future success of the PFS. The CII recognises that this has not been well communicated and we are sorry for any anxiety and confusion caused to members.”
Other resolutions in the AGM included: to receive and consider the annual report and accounts for the year ended December 31, 2020, to approve the reappointment of vice presidents and to approve the appointments made by the board to the CII board since the conclusion of the last AGM.
Phillips said: “I am disappointed that some members felt that they would not be heard through the forums and channels, specifically designed to take members' minds on matters. We - the board - are here to understand members' interests and I want to say to you today – we hear you. I hear you.
“Having had a year to look around the CII and to poke under the bonnet, I am confident that the organisation has a good governance arrangement and that it is dedicated to doing a good job on behalf of its members in challenging times.
“But it is also clear that communications are not what they should be, and issues have escalated beyond where they ought.”
She added: “You may rest assured that I am making it a matter of priority to secure the necessary changes to ensure that all the good work the CII does is not compromised by any real or perceived dissonance with members nor distracting public discussion, that might be better aired within the family, so to speak.”
The CII also elected the president and deputy president at the AGM and appointed Aston Lark’s chief executive officer Peter Blanc as president for 2022.