Anew dimension takes shape now that the first set of proposed accre-dited bodies has been announced by the FSA in a list which includes the IFP. This puts another piece in the jigsaw and the confidence for the organisation and its membership to work together towards the deadlines set out by the FSA.
However, a number of unresolved issues remain. We know that we can now help members and potential members to reach sensible conclusions on their way to receiving their first statement of professional standing.
One of the questions being asked is whether the IFP will be issuing SPS certificates to nonmembers. I would respond by asking, why would we want to do this? While there is an exception to every rule, advisers who are looking for this service are typically those who have not embraced the higher standards of professionalism or who fail to see the benefits of being connected with a professional body.
The IFP celebrates its 25th anniversary of building the profession of financial planning at our annual conference in October. Even throughout difficult times, every ounce of energy has been put into supporting this development and ensuring value and relevance for members while building and maintaining professional standards.
This vision will be retained and not blurred with the addition of a load of people who do not think that they belong and fail to buy into the professional standards which form the cornerstone of the IFP and of IFP membership.
The IFP expects to be able to engage with a number of new financial planning firms and the indivi-dual planners and paraplanners within them to help support their development. Communities exist to allow for informal mentoring and relevant discussions and training and development.
Our recent surveys of CFPCM profess-ionals and para-planners provide evidence to back these statements. The challenge is to connect effectively with those who still do not know that the communities exist.
What is particularly exciting are new devel-opments that help us to connect more effectively with our members and other groups within financial services. Social media is still evolving and its power is largely untapped. The IFP is, however, seeing the real benefit of its work using LinkedIn and Twitter.
Changes are starting to take effect and it is important for businesses to communicate with their teams to assess the various accredited bodies and ensure that they are going to get more than just a cert-ificate. Consumers and society demand more now as we have found from social media.
Consistency and structure is also key. The IFP is working on a register for financial planning firms now that so many firms are able to deliver a quality financial planning service. Ultimately, more needs to be done to promote the excellent service that financial planners provide for their clients to the relevant stakeholders. Whether this is the FSA, the Government or the UK consumer, much can now be done to connect with this message. Many are quite rightly waiting for a regulatory dividend. It is about time to collect.
>Nick Cann is chief executive of the Institute of Financial Planning