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RDR needs work on differentiation

The Institute of Financial Planning’s Fit For The Future conference at the Celtic Manor hotel in Wales continues to grow each year as the leading planners converge at what has become a flagship event in the calendar.

Despite the personal benefits that individual delegates enjoy, it is noticeable now that the growth in the financial planning profession is gaining momentum.

The role of the financial planner has been set out and the competences defined. These will be tested with the certified financial planner community at the end of 2009 when all CFP professionals will be asked to set out a response detailing exactly what they do in their day-to-day dealings with clients.

This feedback will be invaluable as the IFP considers relevant curricula to build future tests for financial planners and continues the ground breaking work with universities.

The role of the paraplanner has been detailed and standards agreed. An examination syllabus is now in place and this test will be positioned at QCF level four to reflect the requirements of the FSA’s retail distribution review. The first examinations will be held at the beginning of 2010.

Having set out the roles so that there is clarity for financial planners, it is time to turn to the financial planning business itself and what actually constitutes a financial planning firm. At the IFP conference, president Barry Horner set out a vision for a financial planning firm which would truly enable the consumer to find a service appropriate to their needs.

The FSA’s RDR does not go far enough to differentiate the type of firms that exist and there is still time to do more.

The IFP’s response to the RDR will focus on these opportunities and set out the alternative models that might easily exist with a little more courage.

The large firms’ symposium showed that despite the challenges that businesses face, the desire to achieve a consistent client delivery is uppermost in their priorities alongside the build- ing of a profitable scalable business.

The IFP has captured what would be required within a classic financial planning business and will be using this as a template to launch a register of financial planning firms in 2010. This will complete the framework that the profession still lacks to then build at pace an outcome that everybody can be proud of.

What was very clear at the conference is the general recognition that fee-based financial planning businesses are going to lead the way over the next few years.

At the IFP strategy meeting in November, the IFP board will apply the finishing touches to our plans to accelerate their growth and to enable more firms to prepare themselves for the business model that they desire in plenty of time for 2013.

Sorry if you missed this year’s conference – it will be even bigger and better in 2010. Hope to see you before that.

Nick Cann is chief executive of the Institute of Financial Planning

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