Does the CII's consultation face up to the future of financial planning?

Does the CII's consultation face up to the future of financial planning?

The Chartered Insurance Institute's proposals do not do enough to move the professional body's emphasis away from products and onto service, according to the guest on the latest FTAdviser Podcast.

The CII is currently consulting on proposals which it says will help it and its members adapt to the changing world of new technology, more demanding regulation and changing attitudes among consumers.

Alasdair Walker, a chartered financial planner at Handford, Aitkenhead & Walker and chairman of the Personal Finance Society's practitioner panel who was appearing on the podcast in a personal capacity, acknowledged the need to update the CII's syllabus and said the CII was right to be looking into these issues.

But he said: "The key bit lacking [...] is actually the skills of financial planning. There is a truism considered by people who have been doing this for a while that you go to the CII for their exams for the technical competencies and you go to alternatives for actually how to do the job. None of this proposal addresses that bit so far as I can see.

"The crux of the issue as I see it is a financial planning professional is answerable to their client. It is the client who agrees their fees, it is the client who pays their fees.

"The product of a financial planner is the service that they offer to the clients and the current set of exams, and in fact if you look at the technical competencies that are within the professional map as well, the focus on all of those is on a product solution for a problem that somebody presents with, which is very much how the financial planning qualifications the CII offer are structured as well and that really misses the point."

In response to these concerns, a spokesperson for the CII said it had engaged with leaders, practitioners, HR and L&D leaders from large corporates and SMEs to understand the skills required to be a financial planner and it held interviews with 21 representatives from the financial planning sector, followed by focus-group input and validation from a cohort including four PFS board members and another eight representatives from paraplanning and personal finance.

Walker also expressed concerns that the career journey mapped out in the CII's consultation was too rigid and hierarchical, with a CII member route plotted out from band one - an administrative staff member who might be a foundation member of the CII - to band four - a senior leader or business owner who might be a chartered fellow of the CII.

He said: "You don't imagine a practitioner-led organisation to have these multiple tiers of management that this structure seems to imply.

"I know a number of highly competent paraplanners who are chartered fellows of the PFS. What they aren't is senior business leaders in strategically important roles for large organisations. What they are is absolutely fantastic practitioners."