Personal Finance Society  

PFS member director hits back at CII allegations

PFS member director hits back at CII allegations

A member director at the Personal Finance Society has hit back at the Chartered Insurance Institute about the "serious public allegations" made against the PFS board. 

Before Christmas, the CII announced it was to appoint a majority of directors to the PFS board, following what it called failed mediation attempts and poor governance issues.

At the time, the CII also announced its decision to appoint three institute directors to the PFS board with immediate effect.

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But in a right to reply seen by FTAdviser today (January 9), Vanessa Barnes, a member director of the Personal Finance Society, said there has been no evidence to support the CII's allegations of poor governance.

"You have published allegations that I, as a member director of the Personal Finance Society (PFS) have failed to act properly in accordance with the PFS Articles of Association and that I and other member directors are responsible for serious failures of board governance. However, you have not provided any evidence to support your allegations, which I personally refute," she wrote.

“As you have chosen to make your accusations publicly and without prior consultation or engagement, I feel I have no option but to respond accordingly to your false allegations and I aim to provide fact based substantiation of my replies to correct your factual inaccuracies.”

PFS member directors and advisers of the board had already issued a statement on January 5, saying claims of poor governance had not been supported by evidence.

In response, the CII reiterated that it was forced to take action to appoint directors to the PFS board  after “significant governance failings”, which had left it with “no choice”.

Helen Phillips, group chair at the CII, said on January 5 the PFS board's governance failures were not, as claimed, “baseless or without foundation”, and suggestions that the CII group board had appointed further institute directors for any other reason was “deeply misleading”.

However, Barnes said today that this was “not a true and accurate statement”. 

She said: “The CII have had three failed attempts to gain control of the PFS by winding it up in 2017, 2019 and in 2021. It is clear that you see yourself as an executive chair.  

“On July 14, 2022, you wrote to the PFS president and said 'that in order to protect our joint and respective members’ best interests the CII will have no choice but to appoint Institute directors to form the majority of the PFS board if mediation without preconditions does not proceed or successfully conclude within a short timeframe.”  

Barnes said the letter acknowledged that the PFS was run effectively and efficiently and there was no mention of any failures of governance. 

Responding to Phillips’ claims that the CII had responded to the PFS board’s demands “diligently, professionally and with immense goodwill”, Barnes said this was “factually not true”.

“I am not aware of any PFS board demands, only CII demands,” she wrote.