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Can a professional body alliance build public trust?


Professional standards in financial advice have come a long way in recent years, but consumers do not necessarily know that. How can the industry earn their trust?

Earlier this month the Chartered Insurance Institute, the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment and the Chartered Banker Institute joined forces to promote professionalism and build trust in the financial services sector.

Working together as the Chartered Body Alliance while retaining their own identities, branding, individual charter and governance, the three organisations aim to communicate the benefits of engaging with qualified professionals through a range of initiatives such as events and explaining how their qualifications represent the “gold standard”.

CII chief executive and spokesperson for the alliance Sian Fisher says: “The public are not necessarily aware they have a choice when it comes to engaging with a financial services professional, and that not all practitioners in the market are qualified. The Chartered Body Alliance will help increase awareness of what a chartered and certified professional is, offering reassurance that members of the alliance have the knowledge and skills required to earn consumer trust.”

The alliance is seen by the bodies as a natural progression of recent campaigns such as the CISI’s Invest in Yourself and the CII’s Choose Chartered.

Fisher says part of the alliance’s work will be to publicly explain the professional evolution that has taken place in the sector over recent years. She says: “This will engage a larger number of consumers who may not otherwise have had the confidence to consider planning for their long-term financial futures.

“By encouraging high standards of competence, integrity and care for the client, chartered professional bodies equip their members with all the skills necessary to deliver a reliable service.”

The alliance has its own website, which will be used as a way of keeping everyone up to date with its news and activities. It currently has a “find a professional” facility, allowing consumers to scroll through the different types of qualified professionals, read a brief explanation about them and select what they need.

On whether this has the potential to confuse rather than enlighten consumers, the alliance points out the facility is at a very early stage of development.

Fisher says: “We are already making some changes to its functionality to make it more user friendly.”



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There are 10 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Well a good start in building confidence in financial advice would be to balance the media and reporting with reports of good outcomes. If you look at any main stream press, news or media only the worst and negative is ever reported.
    It is little wonder the public have little trust as if you only receive the negatives, the worst cases as a reference you believe that 90% of advisers give poor advice. When was the last time anyone saw a report stating the percentage of complaints upheld compared to the volume of advice actually given. Report, £3 million lost due to poor advice, what is not stated is the total advice in this sector amounts to £20 Billion. When did anyone see a report that Mrs or Mr Client has kept their house after the loss of her their partner due to the advice to purchase protection. When did you see on the news that due to good advice Mr & Mrs Client investments have performed well and they are enjoying their retirement, thanks to their adviser and his help over the last 20 years. In fact, can anyone actually remember any report, press article in the main stream that has been positive?

    • There would be little point in a financial PR firm conducting a survey that showed that 90% of the public thought that advisers gave good advice (because it would imply that you don’t need the PR firm’s services) and there would be little point in a newspaper or trade journal publishing such a survey (because it would be boring). Why are you reading a survey when you already know the outcome will be negative, because it has been passed through two filters that only allow negativity through?

      The only thing that 99% of surveys tell you is that if you ask a silly question you get a silly answer.

      “When did anyone see a report that Mrs or Mr Client has kept their house after the loss of her their partner due to the advice to purchase protection.” When Aviva last ran some adverts along those lines. If you want to see stuff like that in the media you have to pay for it.

    • Well said Martin, and you are right about the media’s focus on the bad news, with nothing on the good outcomes.
      Maybe MM (particularly Justin Cash),could learn from this and start a positive outcomes campaigen as I am sure thare are many such successes that the MM readers would be happy to supply.
      However i suspect tht MM only focus on negatives to get attention to their pages.

  2. The question asks can a trade body build the trust necessary – in theory yes but it would be an uphill task

    The problem is that the ‘man in the pub’ is often a simple soul. From his point of view a financial adviser and banker will be seen as the same thing – both in financial services.

    And it’s the latter that keeps causing the problems. LIBOR scandal, 2008 turmoil (watch The Long Short on Netflix!) and even this week news about laundering of Russian money. The list goes on.

  3. “If you have a qualification you have a certificate….” That if I may say is a rather fatuous remark. I do agree that a qualification is not the be all and end all and experience (not only in financial services) and commercial nous are also vital. But qualifications at least prove that you have done the work and have a grasp of the theory. I also agree that if you are competent most people don’t even ask about your qualifications. It is assumed to be a given. However if they find you don’t have any they would be justified in thinking you are a man (or woman) of straw.

    Anyway where I do agree is that professional bodies and trade organisations are peeing in the wind. Trust is something between an adviser and his clients. You can be qualified up to your armpits, but if you have to fulfill a company quota (as an example), or you have no commercial experience or understanding you will find it almost impossible to be trusted.

    If the industry want to generate trust here are 3 suggestions.
    1. Improve education. Include some basic business and accountancy courses.
    2. Help to get rid of the cowboys, the commission earners and the salesmen.
    3. Keep a close eye on the large organisations.

  4. Sorry to upset you again, Harry.

    • Thanks Alan. But I’m not really upset. It’s just that I believe in the following 7 golden rules:

      1. Be as well qualified as you can be. Indeed never stop learning.
      2. Always have or do what you advise your clients to have or do. Indeed be ahead of your clients in this.
      3. Be able to afford NOT to do business on occasion.
      4. The product comes second to solid advice.
      5. Always charge fees – whether or not a product purchase takes place.
      6. Don’t do home visits – that’s why you pay for an office.
      7. Always be available for your clients. Always respond within 24 hours. After all this is a service industry.

  5. Does the author of this article understand the difference between a ‘trade body’ and a ‘professional body’? The headline would suggest not… this is an alliance of professional bodies.

  6. Amanda Newman Smith 22nd March 2017 at 3:08 pm

    The author certainly does understand the educational/lobbying distinction – but did not write the headline.

  7. Robert Sinclair 22nd March 2017 at 5:02 pm

    Amanda, that tends to say it all…

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