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Planners need more than exams

I must take issue with Julie Lord’s article in last week’s Money Marketing and the utter nonsense she spouts regarding chartered v certified financial planner status.

If I were starting now, I know which route I would take to achieve professional level and that would be the easiest. I could, from scratch, become certified in just over a year as I could take three full-credit AFPCs (in old money) and then do their case study and, voila, CFP on the doormat. To get to the chartered standard would take an absolute minimum of three years but more like six, I would suggest, if one is working full-time too.

A few years ago, I enquired about joining the CFP and spoke to the local representative who told me what I had to do. The conversation went thus.

CFP chap: “To be a qualified CFP member, you will have to have qualifications up to AFPC standard and then sit our own case study on financial planning.”

Me: “Well, I am an associate of Sofa so I have got more than enough exams and I have passed the CII’s holistic financial planning qualification which is a case study on financial planning.”

CFP chap: “Oh no, that’s not at all comprehensive enough and our exam is much better than that”

End of conversation. You see my problem is that the IFP have this ridiculous holier than thou attitude about their exam which has annoyed me over the years and I am glad that the CII has just realised that the two qualifications should not have the same merit. Holistic financial planning is case-study-based (and predecessor AF5), include tax calcs, forecasts and legal issues and recommendations.

Being a chartered financial planner is not just about totting up exam credits. It is about adhering to a code of ethics, having a history of relevant CPD, just like the IFP. The only difference is we have to prove ourselves over a longer period of time and have to demonstrate a greater breadth of technical knowledge to do so.

One thing I would praise the IFP for is their ability to make out they represent the industry when there are only hundreds of CFPs in the UK. They certainly punch above their weight in the PR world. But in my experience over the years, it is not generally CII members that have been doing the sniping, it is the IFP and they obviously do not like the taste of their own medicine.

Phil McGovern
Chartered financial planner
Director
MPA Financial Management
Henley in Arden
Warwickshire

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