Setting yourself apart and demonstrating added value for clients has never been more important for advisers - so attaining the internationally recognised ISO 22222 standard seems a no brainer, right? PA asked advisers...
The ISO 22222 is the only international quality standard for financial planners. Yet currently a mere 68 UK-based advisers are accredited. What's behind the lack of interest and does it mean advisers are missing out?
"Our target market is currently in the UK and we do have to consider such commercial aspects before jumping through additional hoops to obtain another certification", said Ifs Wealth & Pensions director Ricky Chan, a Chartered Financial Adviser, who said he did not feel at a disadvantage by not having the accreditation.
"I hold a Level Six Diploma in certified financial planning and our firm is chartered which I feel does differentiate us at the minute. However that may change - as a business we possibly haven't seen the value in obtaining the ISO 22222 as it hasn't been marketed that widely."
ISO 22222 is awarded by professional body Standards International. It practically assesses the six core steps of financial planning; establishing the advisory relationship; gathering client data and determining goals; evaluating the client's financial status; developing the financial plan; implementing the financial planning recommendations; monitoring the financial plan and advisory relationship.
Standards International founder Michelle Hoskin said: "Over the years appreciation for the standard evolved with marketplace, adviser and client demands.
"We have certainly seen a shift from a market focused on acquiring knowledge and expertise to one focused on entrepreneurship, delivering value throughout the client journey."
Three-time chartered financial planner Filip Slipaczek, who actively advocates improving professional standards, said it demonstrates "good housekeeping".
Slipaczek, who works in his North London practice with sons Alex and Max, said: "Many rely on compliance consultants, some which aren't qualified to advise but charge advisers £200-300 a month, while you pay £67.50 for this accreditation where your compliance is verified on an annual basis."
Filip's eldest son Alex, at age 28 is the youngest adviser in country to hold the ISO 22222 and considers it a big draw for young advisers entering the industry.
He said: "I think the prestige of an internationally recognised accreditation, as well as a practical assessment, resonates with a younger generation and will help attract new blood."
Meanwhile The Investment Coach founder Andrew Reeves, who was the first adviser to be accredited in 2008, said: "Having an international standard as a kitemark is undoubtedly a good thing but I think there are more fundamental issues to be tackled first in trying to attract new talent."
The ISO 22222 sits alongside the BS 8577, an operational standard for UK-based firms.
AKFP Group director Roger Kennedy believes the ISO 22222 and BS 8577 put advisers on a "level playing field" with other professions.
He said: "It creates greater mutual respect between professions, such as solicitors and accountants, while also adding value for clients."
Kennedy added that while qualifications such as the CFP prove technical regulatory capability, and inspire trust in the adviser, this was expected as a minimum.
"Regulation is what gets you to the table but there are other elements that gain that extra validation," he said.
Kennedy and AKFP financial planner Michael Kirkwood were awarded the accreditation in February 2017 and are the only two financial planners in Northern Ireland to have attained it. AKFP as a firm was also awarded the BS 8577 standard.
Create Wealth Management director Peter Davies said the standard makes firms consider all aspects of the business. Like AKFP, Davies said Create had also decided to gain the BS 8577 accreditation.
He said: "The CFP assesses how you deliver and produce financial plans but these look more at the processes as a whole on an annual basis."
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