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Charter is vital step on road to a profession

The Chartered Insurance Institute has finally won chartered status – a very significant step along the road to making advisers into a profession.

The bar is set very high.

An adviser starting from scratch would expect to take three to four years to attain it although many existing qualifications will count.

Fellows of the Personal Finance Society will automatically receive the qualification in the process known quaintly as grandfathering.

The CII also says that many advisers may already have as much as half of the required skills and credits.

Turning to what could be called the other camp, the Institute of Financial Planning has concerns about the sheer amount of work that will be required by working advisers to attain the status although it insists that it also wants to work alongside the CII.

IFP chief executive Nick Cann believes that the IFP’s award, which also features the letters CFP, with the C standing for certified, is a more practical qualification.

He even mentions that chartered status could become a haven for boffins. This is a risk and certainly one that the CII should be aware of.

But it is not a perfect world. It would, for example, have been better if a clash of acronyms could have been avoided. But, in terms of the level of difficulty, the Privy Council required a high standard of exam or qualification before it was prepared to offer chartered status.

So the CII might not have been able to lower the bar even had it wanted to. There are those who will argue that most IFAs and other advisers will only want to get qualified to a level where they feel they can do a good job for clients without necessarily having to scale the academic heights of charterdom.

There may be other ways to consider raising the average standard of advisers, particularly those coming in through new routes such as advising on protection before moving on to the fuller advice piece. But overall, this move to chartered status can only be a good thing for the industry as a whole.

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