Delighted to be here – along with senior executives from the CISI, Lydia Romero, Global Director of Learning and Richard Bennett, Regional Director for the UK. I am here, to support Simon Culhane, the CEO, who has a long standing commitment with our international Presidents in Dubai and sends his apologies.
I believe that we are at the start of an exciting new chapter for both our organisations.
The CISI and the IFP have much in common and are an excellent fit. Both organisations are professional bodies, highly regarded in their field of expertise, working tirelessly for members and the public.
When we say a professional body, we mean an organisation that is run by, and for, professionals who we define as individuals who possess the necessary combination of
- A high knowledge base
- top level of skills
operating with exemplary standards of behaviour.
We regard our members, particularly our Chartered members, as being at the pinnacle of their profession.
We recognise that those who have achieved the certified financial planner designation are also at the top of their profession.
So, everyone who is a CFP and takes our integrity test, which is a requirement of every member, will become a Chartered Fellow
and be able to describe themselves as both Certified Financial Planner professionals and Chartered Wealth Managers. That feels like a very strong combination.
I am a co-opted member of the CISI board thus independent as I do not work for a member organisation. During my career at Fidelity I saw the introduction and evolution of platforms as a valuable tool for the emerging new model advisors. From my American background I have long admired the professionalism and passion shown by FP practitioners of the CFP Board in the US. Thus I am particularly enthusiastic about working with the IFP because financial planning is, I believe at the cutting edge of the advice industry and IFP members as the very top of their profession.
I am aware from discussions with fellow board members just how much their business models are changing.
They are hiring and integrating qualified financial planners within their teams so that they can provide their clients with full financial advice as part of a wider financial planning service and not just be limited to discussing investment options. This is not a new trend but one undoubtedly accelerated by the pension reforms. Bringing new member firms, many of them small businesses into the CISI body will inject a lot of new ideas and dynamism to a wider community.
The CISI is keen to be with IFP because it sees the direction of travel in the advice industry and the strategic importance of the financial planning pathway to help address the financial needs of both those saving and accumulating as well as the older generation looking to manage retirement and decumulating. Both segments are critical challenges for this country. Over the last 20 years the Institute has grown significantly in the UK.
Also, we now have a significant presence abroad to compliment or strong reputation for quality and integrity at home. So let me reiterate, this is all about growth.
That’s why some of the first actions we are taking are to:
- Take out large scale advertisements, publicising the union between the IFP and the CISI – these adverts are already in place with a dominating presence at major London transport hubs. We will also advertise in trade publications and have committed to spend at least £35k for the next few years on promoting financial planning.
- One area where will be spending our advertising pounds is on a new financial planning qualification we are already working on. This is a level four, RDR compliant exam specifically created for financial planners and designed by financial planners. This means that now, for the first time, we can offer a single financial planning pathway under a single organisation umbrella. No longer do we have to send aspiring financial planners to other organisations, from whence only a few return.
We will Increase the number of opportunities for branch members to participate in seminars and face to face events to help create a clear and attractive proposition for those individuals of other organisations who are financial planners to join us.
We will be taking the best of what works from both organisations. I mentioned my long standing admiration for the Financial Planning profession. We know FP practitioners have a unique business model and offer highly personalised services. Also we know the IFP has superb links with sponsors who recognise this and generously support the work of the Institute. We aim to nurture and improve the links.
The CISI has strong links with firms, many of whom have some financial planners who are members of other organisations.
One of our first tasks is to advise them that we are the place for financial planners and encourage them to transfer their membership to us. We have every reason to be confident that many will be receptive to this offer.
However, let me add a touch of pragmatism. This is a merger. Things will change. This isn’t about picking up the IFP, creating a ring fence around it and dropping it within the CISI. It’s not business as usual. Not everything will continue as it was. There will be new processes, new staff (but some familiar ones too) new ways of working and a new HQ in London, not Bristol.
But equally, it not about absorption, which is why the IFP brand will continue, why Financial Planner will continue and why the IFP board who you have just elected will move across to be the committee who will run a new Professional Forum called the IFP Forum.
As I said earlier, we will pick the best from both organisations.
This conference and its community feel is certainly something that works exceptionally well and we have already signed a contract with the hotel to be back here again next year in October 2016.
So, let me conclude; on behalf of the Board and the executive I look forward to 1st November when the deal finally completes. It is truly good news for consumers, members and the financial planning industry.