This month, Jacksons Wealth Management managing director Pete Matthew announced he was dropping his certified financial planner designation. He is a beacon of the profession and for six years was the chairman of his local branch of the Institute of Financial Planning, which previously awarded the CFP.
I also dropped CFP designation some months ago. I served on the IFP membership committee and co-chaired the London branch for three years, right until it was taken over by the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment. Martin Bamford and several other planners I know have made the same decision or are on the verge of doing so. More have given up on their attempt to take the assessment as they watch it descend into irrelevance.
This is a great shame. Many attest to the transformative role the CFP and IFP played in their careers.
Granted, under the IFP, the CFP certificate struggled to gain wider adoption, and the primary reason for the professional body’s takeover was because the Financial Planning Standards Board (the US-based owner of the global CFP designation) wanted to drive ambitious growth of it in the UK. But, four years on, the number of CFP professionals here has all but declined.
The CISI has managed to rip out the soul of the financial planning community and suck out whatever life the CFP had.
The so-called CISI Financial Planning Forum – a shadow of its predecessor – is now a lifeless and rudderless entity. Not only does it lack the charismatic leaders the IFP had in Nick Cann, Paul Etheridge and other financial planning stalwarts, but it lacks purpose and direction.
The focus on financial planning has been relegated to second place within a much bigger, investment-led CISI. The client-focused planning content in branch meetings has been substituted with investment punditry and pontification. The planner-led community spirit that attracted so many has been destroyed by a bureaucratic approach to everything from members’ engagement to continuing professional development record-keeping.
The CISI has not only failed to engage planners but seems to take a dismissive and arrogant approach to serious concerns they have. It has embarked on window-dressing attempts to revamp the assessment process, the latest of which is to change the designation from a Level 6 to a Level 7 on the National Qualifications Framework.
There is still a chance to fix this though. Perhaps the CFP’s descent into utter irrelevance can be stopped. I suggest ripping the Financial Planning Forum and CFP designation out of the CISI. It could do no worse on its own than it currently does under that name.
Or what about making it a part of the Personal Finance Society, where the interest is more aligned and the focus on financial planning is mutual? The PFS has done an excellent job in filling the gap that the demise of the IFP created.
The CFP can be pitched as a total replacement for its AF5 (financial planning process) exam, resulting in a dual designation of chartered and certified. It is about time we brought both together and created a strong, unified voice for financial planning.
Abraham Okusanya is director of Finalytiq