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No woolly thinking

Knitting has never been a core competency of the Institute of Financial Planning as it is not seen as totally relevant to the development of the profession of financial planning. There might clearly be some lifestyle benefit to the hobby but I gather that it is all too easy to drop a stitch, meaning the whole thing has to be unravelled.

The IFP is committed to the development of the financial planning profession and to working on all aspects that affect those in the profession so consumers are ultimately better served by the professional financial planning they receive.

This profession has been building for 21 years. It is now more important than ever to capture the right aspects from the RDR to build a sensible distribution model that serves consumers of all types better than the current model.

Consultation is crucial but with as independent a perspective as possible to ensure that the consumer is going to be better served by any changes over and above vested interests.

Many will argue that the current IFA model is not broken. It may not be broken but a lot of it is not very good and this represents an opportunity to capture the good parts and resegment the market.

The category of professional financial planner has been proposed. It is important to ensure that the segment is properly defined, allows for development and starts to become attractive to more new entrants so, rather like in the US, financial planning becomes a career of choice.

Part of the responsibility of a professional body is to ensure that it is actually serving the profession. To do that effectively, there has to be strong ongoing communication with the members. They need to be asked their opinion and need to understand what is going on.

Members need to feel that their views are listened to and that they have an opportunity to influence some of the outcomes. The IFP now carries out regular surveys on issues that are being addressed, so that the board and secretariat can be sure they are on the right track.

The professional body must have a voice that the market listens to and an ability to contribute on all relevant issues. There are a number of reviews and issues that concern financial planners. As well as the RDR, there are also the platform discussion paper and prudential requirements which are all current and central to financial planning businesses. The IFP will be involved in these responses and shaping outcomes where relevant to the profession.

Our last member survey indicated that IFP membership has helped individuals to develop their skills, knowledge and professionalism in a way which we hope will become the standard for those aiming to become professional pinancial planners. Ninety-two per cent of members felt that the IFP was the professional body for the professional financial planner and 96 per cent had joined to improve their knowledge and develop skills in financial planning.

Seventy per cent thought their membership had helped them to bring innovation to their business and over 80 per cent agreed that it had helped them to put clients’ interests first while increasing their personal and business potential.

The next survey looks at specific issues around the RDR to help with the response to the FSA. No mention of knitting anywhere.

Nick Cann is chief executive of the Institute of Financial Planning

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