With Level 6 qualifications seen as the next big differentiator in financial advice, an age-old debate has been re-ignited. So, which is better in 2013: Chartered or Certified?
An increasing number of advisers are now achieving Chartered Financial Planner status. Since December 2010, the number of Chartered planners registered with the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) has risen 57% to 3,535, with a further 6,000 reportedly working towards the qualification.
Keith Richards, the newly-installed chief executive of the CII’s sister organisation, the Personal Finance Society (PFS), claimed the increase was due to advisers’ need to distinguish themselves following the implementation of the Retail Distribution Review (RDR).
“Advisers are now looking for a much clearer differentiator. Research shows that consumers identify with Chartered as they know the term. Intuitively, [it] denotes someone who is well qualified,” he said.
Which is better in 2013: Chartered or Certified?
But obtaining Chartered status by way of the CII’s advanced diploma exams is not the only path to higher advice qualifications and recognition.
Along with a select few others offering their own certifications, the Institute of Financial Planning (IFP) provides the certified financial planner (CFP) designation, which requires advisers to complete an exam and 70-hour case study.
The CFP is on the same official level as Chartered status – QCF Level 6 – and is also an internationally recognised qualification. Yet, the number of CFP qualified advisers currently stands at 967, significantly less than the number of Chartered advisers.
There are a number of reasons for this, a clear one being that the IFP is a smaller and younger organisation than the CII. However, as Richards’ comment implies, having ‘Chartered’ after your name may also translate into cash a little easier than ‘Certified.’
Huw Jones, director of Proposito Financial Planning, also hints at a more market-orientated reason for choosing Chartered over Certified. “People have heard of Chartered – they understand it means something significant,” he said. “That’s not to say the CFP is any less valuable, there is just no public recognition.”
However, having achieved both Chartered and Certified status, Jones claimed the CFP programme was more valuable to him in terms of adding to his skills and improving his business practices.
“The CFP was hugely beneficial in terms of my development,” he said. “I can’t say I’ve ever come out of an exam a better planner than when I went in, but I can honestly say that, having gone through the CFP process, I’m a better financial planner.”
Gareth Reynolds, also both a Chartered and Certified planner and principal adviser at MGS Financial, told a similar story.
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