Financial planning firms are now able to apply for chartered status after the Chartered Insurance Institute introduced corporate status for its Chartered Financial Planner title.
Ian Templeton, president of the CII, says the move will mean adviser firms would be able to gain equal recognition with other chartered professionals, such as accountants, lawyers and architects.
“At long last chartered firms of financial planners will find themselves on an equal footing with other professions,” Templeton says.
“Consumers now have the means to identify immediately those firms that have publicly committed themselves to the CII Code of Ethics and Conduct and to the highest professional standards.”
Steve Jenkins, the CII’s financial services business development director, told IFAonline he expected the most interest in the new status to come from IFA firms, but that tied agents and bancassurers could also apply.
“It will be particularly attractive to IFAs,” he says. “The potential kudos attached to calling your firm chartered will be considerable. It will create an upper echelon of planning firms and help increase the momentum of the whole sector as it seeks to drive up standards and performance.”
He says the CII would publish a register of chartered firms on its website, which would be available to consumers to pinpoint firms which had achieved the highest professional status.
But he warned firms which failed to perform would be publicly struck off the register.
“Achieving chartered status will mean firms take on a responsibility to behave to a certain level of professional standard. They will be required to submit an annual declaration of compliance confirming that continuing professional development requirements are being met. We will remove status from any firm failing to meet the standards,” Jenkins warns.
To call themselves chartered financial planners, at least half of a firm’s directors or partners must hold chartered status from the CII or from other approved organisations. Additionally, at least 90% of the firm’s customer-facing staff must be CII or PFS members.
Around 900 individuals have so far achieved chartered financial planner status since its introduction at the beginning of 2006. Jenkins says he expects hundreds of financial planning firms to apply for corporate chartered status.
“However, it takes around two years for an individual to become chartered so it will be a long process before we have many firms achieving the status,” Jenkins says.
He added the CII will be launching a campaign to raise consumer awareness of the new status when a significant number of firms, 50 or more, have achieved it. Application forms and explanatory brochures are available from today at www.cii.co.uk/charteredfirms/application
If you would like to comment on this story or speak to its author, telephone Simon Read on 0207 034 2680.IFAonline
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