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Fay Goddard

Personal Finance Society chief executive Fay Goddard declares: “You become almost addicted to this business, you either love it or you don’t.” Goddard clearly falls into the former camp and has dedicated her career to shaping policy and lobbying the FSA over key regulatory issues.

Following a brief stint at HM Customs and Excise, which she says did not agree with her, Goddard headed to London for a job in the pensions department at Norwich Union and ended up running the pension schemes quotations department.

A career break to bring up her children followed and she returned to the industry in 1990 and joined a local IFA to help with the paperwork.

She says: “I said I will come for a few months while I consider my career options and three months ended up being five years. I just found it interesting and challenging. I liked the people side of it but I also really liked the technical side.”

After a further two years at another local IFA firm, where she was brought in to streamline the business and train staff, Goddard saw an ad for technical support at the IFA Association.

“I thought, well, I can do it for seven or eight IFAs, why not do it for 7,000?”

Two years later, in 1999, the Association of Independent Financial Advisers was created and the IFA Association was subsumed into it and Paul Smee, who was Aifa director general at the time, appointed Goddard director of policy.

The trade body started with just six members of staff. Goddard acted as Smee’s number two for five years until he left. David Severn was appointed to replace Smee but, because of ill health, he was only in the role for four months before Chris Cummings took over.

Goddard says: “During that time, there was a lot of speculation about why I did not get the job and the honest answer was I never applied for it. I really did not want that position. I was quite convinced that the best value to members was for me to continue to do the policy work and I was more than happy to work with Chris, with him taking the leadership role.”

Goddard was at Aifa for 10 years and says she had “a fantastic time” and is proud of what she and the team achieved. The biggest achievement was convincing the FSA not to proceed with the defined payment system and to offer the menu option.

“At the time, that would have threatened the existence of the IFA community as we know it today. Now people might say the menu was useless but in fact the concept was right and it is not very different from where we are heading now. It became over-complex and over-engineered by the FSA but the actual concept was right. It was about up-front disclosure, what the services were and the options that people had of paying for it. It sort of got lost in regulation.”

Goddard says her move to the PFS last year offered her the chance to focus on one aspect of the financial advice industry. Her role is primarily to raise the profile of the PFS and communicate and deliver benefits to members. She spends a lot of her time writing articles and newsletters and speaking at industry events and conferences.

The PFS has nearly 25,000 members and, as part of the Chartered Insurance Institute, it owns the chartered financial planner brand. Membership includes over 1,600 chartered financial planners and over 220 chartered firms of financial planners.

“I really believe that as we take this drive towards professionalism, chartered will become the profession of the future. We are already making headway into universities so there is much more awareness of financial planning as being a profession.”

There are CII financial planning qualifications in around 30 further education outlets or universities and the first undergraduate degree for financial planners launches at Bradford University in September 2010.

Goddard says it is essential to raise the minimum standard for qualifications so financial advice is seen as a profession by young people. “The current qualification to give advice is equivalent to A-level. Well, that is not going to be seen as a profession by the youth of today coming through or by the consumer.”

She says the industry is still in a state of transition. “We have got a lot of people in the middle who are not quite sure what they are yet, who perhaps want to be in the planning space but have some way to go and that is certainly one of the clear objectives at the PFS. We want to help people make that transition if that is what they want to do and if they are ready for it.”

Goddard says the PFS supports the thrust of the retail distribution review but the difficult economic climate must be taken into account in the timescale for change in terms of achieving the higher qualification level.

“I don’t believe in forcing in change at a pace that means we sacrifice good people. That would be counter-productive. We have got to get the balance right.”

But she believes the deadline of 2012 set by the FSA is realistic for the majority of advisers because around a quarter of advisers are probably already at level four while another 25 per cent are well on the way to that.

She considers the industry needs to be tougher on bad practice and unethical behaviour. “We need to have the ability to challenge people if we find behaviour that is unacceptable or is damaging the reputation of the industry. The FSA can take sanctions against firms but the process is very long-winded and tortuous and. in the majority of cases, it is actions against firms, not against individuals. I am talking about people who we perhaps know are behaving unethically and risk damaging the reputation of all the good people that work in the sector.”

She also says the industry can be too tough on itself. At the PFS annual conference in November, the society is launching its Chartered Awards to celebrate the best of the industry.

“I think that advisers have to go through quite a lot of pain to get the gain. It is a difficult time. Being bold and believing in yourself is so important. So many advisers undervalue them- selves and they are doing. by and large. a fantastic job.”

Born: Southend on Sea, Essex, June 1951

Lives: Westcliff on Sea, Essex

Education: Southend Girls Grammar school

Career: 2008-present: chief executive, PFS; 1999-2008: director of policy, then deputy director general, Aifa; 1997-99: head of technical services, IFAA; 1995-97: WLM IFA; 1990-1995: DMA IFA; 1968-1973: Norwich Union; nine months with HM Customs & Excise

Likes: Art, music and people who make me laugh

Dislikes: Arrogance, TV soaps and serial moaners

Drives: Renault Clio

Book: The Far Pavilions by MM Kaye

Film: The Color Purple

Album: The Stranger by Billy Joel

Career Ambition: To see chartered financial planner exceed accountancy and law as a career of choice

Life ambition: To do all the things I don’t have time to do now, including a history of art degree

If I wasn’t doing this, would be… Doing a history of art degree

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