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BSI flies kitemark to set a standard of IFA experience

The definition of an “experienced” IFA will be the subject of a British Standards Institute committee meeting in Berlin this week on standards within financial planning.

The debate, which is in advance of BSI’s plenary meeting with the International Standards Organisation in June, looks at the time needed to be in practice for a person to be called an “experienced” IFA.

The UK is calling for a minimum of three years while other countries suggest that as little as 18 months is sufficient experience as an adviser.

The BSI committee has been meeting for three years, working towards an ISO standard for personal financial planning.

The committee, comprising of institutes including Aifa, the PFS, CII, IFP and LSC, sits with 39 other countries signed up to the ISO.

The UK and US have the biggest delegations. Other active members include Australia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Germany and France.

BSI committee deputy chairman and Aegon UK head of industry development Peter Williams says a clear definition of what constitutes an experienced adviser will enable firms to segment their adviser base and charge different rates under the payment menu for different levels of experience.

The working group meeting in Berlin this week will cover definition of the financial planning sector, core competencies and ethics and continuous professional development.

Williams says: “I think there will always be exceptions but three years should be the absolute minimum time that an adviser should have worked, acquiring the level of skill needed to offer credible advice in their sector. The menu system will allow advisers the chance to differentiate between more junior advisers and highly skilled advisers. The client can then make the appropriate decision.

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