View more on these topics

SOFA&#39S view

I am writing this at the end of my first day as Sofa managing director. It was a hectic day that proved to be everything I had hoped – challenging, exciting and with a warm welcome from the Sofa and CII teams.

The issue of professional status, qualifications and competence has been debated endlessly over the years and will no doubt continue to be debated for many years to come. My approach is much simpler. Over the years, working as an IFA and within life companies, I never felt comfortable when I did not know the answer to a question and I had to learn to say the most difficult of phrases – “I don&#39t know.”

I was fortunate that when I joined the industry in 1968, the expectation was that you would complete the ACII at least and a reward structure (both monetary and in terms of career progression) was given as progress was made through the examination.

The missing element was the requirement to keep up to date. CPD did not exist and on gaining FCII, like me, most people breathed a huge sigh of relief at the prospect of no more exams. How wrong I was. I realised in the early 1990s, when I was managing director of an IFA firm, that my knowledge was out of date and “I don&#39t know” came into the equation all too often.

The AFPC beckoned and I embarked on the papers with a number of colleagues, setting up weekly study groups. Further study is about self-development or, put another way, investment in ourselves that shows a return through better business results. This leads me to the rather vexed question as to whether we are a profession or an industry. There are many people who practice at the highest levels of professional standards. Unfortunately, in my view, despite this, we cannot call ourselves a profession as no real barrier to entry exists as it does with, say, the law.

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Sofa is working hard to secure chartered status for the most highly qualified advisers. This will create a high standard similar to other professions and will also require those who achieve chartered status to adhere to a strict code of conduct, with the ultimate sanction being loss of chartered status. It will also give a clear career structure to those pursuing a financial career and will mean that high-quality graduates are far more likely to consider a career in finance alongside law and accountancy.

Why not have a chat with the Sofa team who can supply you with a range of literature and study options that will lead you to the highest level of qualification. You may be interested to know that during January, over 6,000 consumers logged on to the Sofa find an adviser website specifically to find a highly-qualified adviser. After all, 6,000 consumers can&#39t be wrong.

Bob Bullivant is managing director of Sofa


Standard slashes direct salesforce jobs

Standard Life is slashing its direct sales arm by more than half, reducing the number of direct sales staff to 270 from 630 with the potential loss of 360 jobs. The number of direct sales branches will fall to 11 from 21. The restructuring will see the existing direct customer division divided into three separate […]

Protection policies online from Friends

Friends Provident has set up an online underwriting service for protection business through major portals such as Assureweb and the Exchange. Friends says the eSelect Protection system will give immediate online underwriting decisions for cases where no further medical evidence is required, which is estimated to be more than of 60 per cent of cases, […]


“No. Unless there is a dramatic increase in interest rates, I do not think house prices will fall at all.” Paul Harrold, Harrold Financial Planning ” No. House prices will steady back a little way but I cannot see them dropping that dramatically. However, the first-time buyer market has dried up and this is what […]

We have forgotten the principles of equity investment

So Standard Life has sold a further £7.5bn of equities to reduce its long-term investment funds under the with-profits arena to only 35 per cent of assets. When will everyone realise that this action is pathetic? Equities must constitute a greater proportion of longer-term investment funds, especially when the alternatives (gilts and corporate bonds) have […]


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


    Leave a comment


    Why register with Money Marketing ?

    Providing trusted insight for professional advisers. Since 1985 Money Marketing has helped promote and analyse the financial adviser community in the UK and continues to be the trusted industry brand for independent insight and thought leadership.

    News & analysis delivered directly to your inbox
    Register today to receive our range of news alerts including daily and weekly briefings

    Money Marketing Events
    Be the first to hear about our industry leading conferences, awards, roundtables and more.

    Research and insight
    Take part in and see the results of Money Marketing's flagship investigations into industry trends.

    Have your say
    Only registered users can post comments. As the voice of the adviser community, our content generates robust debate. Sign up today and make your voice heard.

    Register now

    Having problems?

    Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3712

    Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am -5.00pm