It was on a Wednesday evening, four days before Christmas, when the Chartered Insurance Institute dropped a bombshell that it planned to take control of the Personal Finance Society board and would appoint directors.
Many advisers have expressed shock and disappointment with the way the CII has acted, and have also said they are considering a move away from the institute.
Dennis Hall, a chartered financial planner and founder of Yellowtail Financial Planning, says his inclination is to move all Yellowtail membership from the CII/PFS to the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment, even if it means dropping his chartered title.
Hall told FTAdviser: “Chartered is an important title. It is hard work to get it, whether personal or corporate and people will obviously think twice about giving this up.”
But it does beg the question: If more and more advisers decide they no longer want to be CII/PFS members, what will this mean for the future of the services the organisations provide to financial planners?
A significant amount of the CII’s revenue will be generated from exam fees and membership fees through the PFS.
This latest row is not the first time things have turned sour between the PFS and CII, but this time it appears to be coming to a head.
Last year the CII came under pressure amid plans to deregister the PFS.
More recently, the CII has claimed its plan to take control was because the PFS board has acted inappropriately to such an extent that the CII had to step in and take control – accusations that have all been strongly denied by the PFS member directors.
The CII has in turn denied the reasons behind the move is to squash the PFS, roll-it into the CII and secure its assets and reserves to prop up the CII.
Helen Philips, group chair at the CII, has said PFS board governance failures are not, as claimed, “baseless or without foundation" and that suggestions that the CII group board has appointed further institute directors for any other reason is “deeply misleading”; adding that the new directors are focused entirely on protecting and serving PFS interests.
A spokesperson for the CII says its group board remains deeply committed to its PFS members and wants to see the PFS "flourish" as a professional membership body.
He adds: "It is essential that PFS members are now consulted, and CII staff are already supporting this exercise as part of their normal, professional service to the PFS board and members.
"The PFS and CII are essential voices for the UK public in these challenging economic times and now more than ever, all our time, energy and resources should be fully invested in building a stronger future and delivering exceptional services for our PFS and CII members.”
Looking at alternatives
But there is still growing discontent among advisers over the recent events, with many considering alternatives to the CII.