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New world order

Spending time with the international financial planning community at the recent Financial Planning Standards Board Council meeting inspired fresh confidence that the profession of financial planning is being extended across the globe.

There will soon be 25 affiliate countries building certified financial planner certification programmes. Between us, we serve more than 140,000 CFP professionals and are united by common standards. As each affiliate grows, the profession gains access to a greater understanding of the global practice of financial planning.

Individual affiliates, including the IFP, have carried out detailed job analysis surveys over the past two years and the first paper entitled ’The Global Practice of Financial Planning’ throws up some interesting results that have positive implications for clients and potential clients of CFPs.

It stresses the importance of ethics and practice standards to CFPs. The findings show continuing professional development activities typically exceed minimum requirements and there is a commitment to ongoing learning and building trust.

Looking at the demographics, the UK, Canada and New Zealand have the highest average age for practitioners. Ninety per cent of the UK CFPs questioned are aged over 35, 57 per cent between 35 and 54.

In China by comparison, 96 per cent are less than 44-years-old and, unusually, 56 per cent are female. The figure was 85 per cent male in the UK.

The UK is also populated by smaller firms, with 66 per cent of firms participating having between one and 10 employees. Seventy-four per cent of UK respondents serve less than 100 clients, which goes to show the maturity of the market here.

This data will help us shape future programmes for CFP candidates and provides better insight into our own market and how it compares to other territories. The data will improve as more of the affiliates complete their job analysis work over the next few years.

We also gain valuable information to share with employers and firms who are considering what the next steps might be after QCF level four in the UK, when building a proposition that will survive the retail distribution review and also deliver real growth to the business and benefits to clients.

From the IFP’s experience, this progress has already been evident within our 28 accredited financial planning firms. These are firms that meet strict criteria and standards around process and delivery of a comprehensive financial planning service as set out by the IFP.

As more information and best practice is collated from home and away, it will help shape the agendas for the forums we will hold in 2012 for these outstanding financial planning businesses, helping them become even more effective.

Growth plans for FPSB affiliates around the world remain undiminished despite the economic challenges and careers in financial planning are gaining increased recognition globally as we are starting to see within the UK.

Financial Planning Week (November 21-27) is a great opportunity to share some of these exciting messages with the public at large, as we continue our quest to help consumers improve their overall financial fitness.

Nick Cann is chief executive of the Institute of Financial Planning


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