IFAFeb 10 2023

Continuum: Being chartered would limit us too much

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Continuum: Being chartered would limit us too much
Martin Brown, chief executive of advice firm Continuum.

The chief executive of Continuum has questioned the importance of chartered status for IFA firms.

Martin Brown told FTAdviser the group had decided against becoming chartered due to the pressure to maintain the number of employees with a chartered status.

In order to qualify for Chartered Financial Planners status, a business must meet a number of criteria including at least 50 per cent of the firm's advisers being chartered financial planners, 90 per cent of consumer-facing staff holding CII membership, and a minimum of one board member holding accreditation.

“Our view was that we did not want to take chartered status, and then be under pressure to retain it," Brown said.

“I would rather not have it and not have it taken away."

Elements of the industry have given false promisesMartin Brown, Continuum

Brown questioned who the accreditation was more important to, clients or advisers themselves.

“I am all for promoting development, CPD, and education to ensure our people are the most informed individuals in the workplace," he said.

“We surround [our team] with support to make sure they are continuously delivering the best outcomes possible.”

Referring to the ongoing dispute between the CII and PFS, Brown said he was glad to be far removed from the "embarassment".


Continuum was acquired by M&G last summer, and while it will retain its brand, the IFA firm is now part of M&G Wealth.

Brown said the main difference the firm will have is the better client costs for its MPS offering as a result of the acquisition.

"It's the difference between knocking on the door with £1.6bn in assets, and knocking on the door with £400bn in assets," he said.

Brown had previously spent nearly a decade at IFA firm Positive Solutions, working on its recruitment strategy and operations. 

He left in September 2012, keen to start his own business and encouraged by a recruiter, who told him it was getting trickier to poach employees from Positive Solutions.

“The recruiter said: ‘Every time I try and recruit people out of Positive Solutions, they then speak to you, and then they stay’.”

The timing was also significant. Brown remembers being sat in the boardroom of Positive Solutions in 2012, thinking it would be a brilliant time to set up a new business post-RDR.

There should not be a barrier to entryMartin Brown, Continuum

“Legacy-free, a modern financial planning business,” he envisioned, though the decision to start the company came as he was constructing a partition wall during some renovation work.

“I threw down the hammer and said right, I’m doing it.”