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How chartered status can provide the X-factor

Chartered financial planner of the year (individual): Left to right: Hugh Dennis (host), Robin Melley (winner), Gary Dale (sponsor: Investec)

Matrix Capital’s Robin Melley thought he would endure an X-Factor style elimination as a finalist at this year’s Personal Finance Society Chartered Awards in Birmingham.

But instead the Shropshire-based financial adviser walked away with the accolade for individual Chartered Financial Planner of the Year. 

“I am proud to have been selected and I have a great respect for previous winners as I know the effort, time and knowledge that goes into it from the start, particularly the case studies,” he says.

Launched in 2009, the annual PFS Chartered Awards recognise the positive contribution that chartered status is making to financial planning as a profession.

Having been chartered since 2008, Melley is well placed to comment on its benefits.

He says: “It has had a huge positive impact from a business viewpoint. Prospective clients did not realise chartered financial planners existed – one client said it was the missing piece of the jigsaw.

“It brought a lot of personal pride to achieve that level and it added a motivation and morale to the team – they felt part of team at the top of their game.”

For Melley, a good adviser is someone who has a combination of technical competence, interpersonal skills and business acumen.

“This is a people business so a good adviser will have the ability to build a rapport and relationship with clients but also have good technical knowledge and be pragmatic.

“In our case we are more of a niche player – we are good at dealing with certain types of clients.

“I love helping clients with complex circumstances and trying to distil complex problems down to straightforward solutions,” he says.

Melley believes that advisers should never stop learning because there are always new concepts, products and ways of thinking.

He credits the RDR with creating a foundation to build a profession out of an industry but says one of the unintended consequences has been to disenfranchise millions of people from advice as the big banks left the advice sector.

“We need to rebuild trust in the advice sector in the minds of the public – if we can’t the ultimate loser is the public,” he says.

Melley says he hopes that chartered status will eventually be the norm but that he believes there will always be a place for non-chartered status.

“Everyone benefits from higher standards. Chartered status is an expression of high standards, ethical behaviour and technical competence but we do not want to isolate people who are not chartered.

“There will always be people who have no aspirations to be chartered or those working towards it who are still valuable.

“But there is more awareness of chartered status now and we need to explain the benefits.”

One of those benefits is attracting new recruits.

“I think that having chartered status as the first major goal is important, particularly for graduates.

“It is not appealing if the end-game qualification is the same as the first year of a degree course, which they have already done,” he says. 

Achieving chartered status is about to get harder

The Chartered Insurance Institute is considering tightening up the process of awarding chartered status to financial advice firms.

In June, the CII carried out a consultation with the public and it aims to ensure the chartered award continues to meet the public expectations of what the award stands for. The CII has proposed increasing the percentage of chartered advisers a firm employs and ensuring that chartered advisers are still actively involved in the advice process in order for a firm to be able to call itself chartered.

It says to meet public expectations, at least half of a firm’s advisers need to have achieved chartered status and a chartered adviser needs to be involved in the assessment of a new client or in signing off any advice. 



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