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Flying start

Every spring bank holiday weekend, the skies over the Thames Estuary come alive with the sights and sounds of high-speed jets and breathtaking display teams as the Southend Festival of Air entertains the 100,000 or so that flock to the town to be enthralled and entertained.

This year was exceptional as the weather was glorious and families and friends picnicked on the cliff gardens overlooking a sparkling sea.

The nostalgia of the World War II memorial flypast with its Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancaster pleased the older generation while the awesome Typhoon left children gasping and covering their ears. But the crowd were all united in their love of the amazing Red Arrows.

I squinted into the sunlight, studying the close formation where, despite a flying speed of over 600mph, the tips of the wings remained precisely at what appeared from the ground to be inches apart.

The skill and professionalism of these pilots is unquestionable but what is also remarkable is the confidence and trust they have in one another. One small mistake could be fatal for all.

This level of confidence comes from the knowledge that each is trained to the highest standard, undergoes continual practice and maintains a discipline and attitude that could be described as a code of conduct – proof that professionalism in any field is not really any different.

At the Personal Finance Society, we believe in building strong relationships with other professionals and later this year will launch our “chartered connections” initiative.

Each of our 24 regions will have a “chartered champion” – a chartered financial planner who will lead and develop professional relationships with local law firms and accountancy practices.

The objective is to share best practice and to develop working relationships. The chartered title carries the kudos of not just being well-qualified but part of a true profession which in turn inspires the confidence and trust of other professionals.

I am certain the chartered connections clubs will grow and prosper throughout next year.

Meanwhile, the Red Arrows left a clear message for me: success is not just about achieving the highest standard. Maintaining it is all-important.

In the forthcoming retail distribution implementation plan consultation (next stage of RDR) there will be considerable emphasis on the need for higher professional standards and, in particular, the focus on continuing professional devel-opment will be strengthened.

CPD activity should be relevant, measurable and cover standards of ethical behaviour. It should address any gaps in technical knowledge needed to perform a specific role but also interpersonal skills.

Listening, written and oral communication and IT are skills that are often neglected but equally important as technical knowledge.

The CII is no stranger in delivering appropriate CPD and will without doubt remain at the forefront in the post-RDR world.

I wonder how many hours of training a Red Arrow pilot does each year.

Fay Goddard is chief executive of the Personal Finance Society

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