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University challenge

What an exciting time to be involved with the IFP, after an excellent conference where the new joint venture with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) was announced. The conference was oversubscribed and there was a tremendous atmosphere.

The exciting thing about next year’s conference is that we will be welcoming around 20 students who will probably just have qualified as certified financial planners. That may mean altering some of the entertainment available, and the mentoring sessions will certainly take on a new dimension: one of the conference highlights was the willingness of experienced planners to share their experiences.

Why will we be having students at the conference? MMU is changing its financial services degree programme to become the equivalent of the current dipPFS or former AFPC, meaning that on qualification the students will pass through a fast-track programme that should give them the CFP certification before our autumn conference.

These graduates will still need the required three years of experience before they can use the title, but this will effectively be their apprenticeship.

The IFP will be completing their work on job analysis and competency to launch to the market on January 1. This will help firms find the right courses and training for staff.

Just as the IFP is to join its advisory board, the university will join the IFP educational board, to provide insight into the academic requirements for future courses and examinations. This is consistent with the IFP philosophy that it should remain an independent organisation with a focus on the development of the profession with as many other relevant organisations as possible. The IFP’s main business isn’t selling exams but ensuring that the consumer is better educated and served by competent financial planners.

It will be interesting to see how other universities view this initiative, because few currently offer financial services degrees. Financial services hasn’t done a great job in making the environment appealing or exciting, although this is changing. Having many different business models, doing many different things, with many different people, with many different outcomes is not acceptable. Most will have found their way into financial services by accident, which needs to change.

The US market has led the way in financial planning development, and it is likely that the UK market will begin to mirror some of their experiences. For the 20 countries providing CFP certification programmes, the goal is for there to be a common job competency profile from which to build education and examination programmes.

There are 321 undergraduate degree, graduate degree, and certificate programmes in the US for CFP certification.

It is great to be planning a conference for 2007 which will need a bigger venue. I think that there are already enough IFP members to match the students in the social stakes, but it will still be a challenge.

Nick Cann is chief executive at the Institute of Financial Planning

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