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PFS and IFP in clash over qualifications

The Personal Finance Society has warned the FSA that it must not equate its chartered financial planner qualification with the Institute of Financial Planning’s CFP when awarding professional status under the retail distribution review.

PFS chief executive Tim Eadon says he is concerned that the RDR mentions the two qualifications in “the same breath”, saying “the IFP’s qualification is equivalent to half our chartered one”.

He insists the CII’s chartered award should be the true benchmark of professional planner status.

But IFP chief executive Nick Cann says this argument is “nonsense” and that the IFP’s qualification is not just about passing exams but demonstrating practical skills as a financial planner. He believes that the certified financial planner award should be used as a benchmark of profess-ional status.

Eadon says the PFS has put its concerns to the regulator after an outcry from members worried about the comparison. He believes the current 1,000 chartered FPs could increase to 10,000 by the time the RDR is fully implemented.

Cann says the IFP’s education committee is reviewing its qualifications and he estimates qualified advisers doubling from over 700 to around 1,500 in 18 months.

Eadon says: “We are worried by the RDR using the certified and chartered qualifications in the same breath. The IFP’s qualification is equivalent to half our chartered one. We have addressed our concerns to the regulator about the problems of equating the qualifications.

“It is up to the FSA to decide what level it sets the top-tier benchmark but, for us, professionals should be looking towards chartered status.”

Cann says: “I totally refute this nonsense or any suggestion that our qualification is not up to the level of the professional adviser. It is a very unhelpful argument as we try to address the challenge of increasing the professionalism levels of all advisers who want to improve.”


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Apple: a stellar technology story

By Ali Unwin, head of technology sector research

Apple recently announced the highest-ever recorded quarterly net profit ($18bn), with the sale of 74.4 million iPhones helping the company deliver $74.6bn of revenue for the quarter ending December 2014. These sales were largely driven by strong demand for the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Highlights included Chinese iPhone sales doubling year-on-year and unit growth of 44% in the US — supposedly a well-penetrated market. Apple ended the quarter with $178bn in cash on its balance sheet, having generated a staggering $30bn in free cash flow during the quarter.

At Neptune, we have been long-term believers in the Apple story, and continue to hold the stock in a number of our portfolios based on the company’s long-term growth prospects. This is predicated on our belief that Apple has proved thus far that it can — unusually for a consumer electronics company — maintain high margins for a sustained period of time, even as adoption of new technology slows down and competitors produce similar-specification products.


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