Becoming diploma qualified is an exciting milestone but, having achieved it, advisers may decide to continue their professional development to chartered status and beyond. Although higher qualifications are not a formal requirement, they are encouraged within the profession.
Even so, advisers at the start of their career may wonder what they stand to gain by committing themselves to further study. In short, is becoming chartered worthwhile and at what point should advisers go for it?
Put simply, chartered status bestows more options. Some advice firms are corporate chartered with the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), meaning at least half their advisers must hold the chartered financial planner title. That affects their recruitment policies.
Bournemouth-based advice firm Strategic Solutions has been corporate chartered for almost a decade. Its managing director, Kevin Forbes, regards the recruitment of chartered financial planners as “business critical”.
He says: “To us, the role isn’t ‘financial planner’, it’s ‘chartered financial planner’. We recruit people to that role.”
Being chartered has value in particular markets, such as long-term care and pension transfers
Advisers can become chartered with the CII only once they have gained its Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning and have at least five years’ experience in financial services. Forbes says this requirement can be challenging but, as everything from work placements to previous financial services roles count, it usually presents no problems.
St James’s Place director for professional development Edward Grant says not every client needs to see a chartered financial planner and most advisers are not chartered. However, he believes chartered status has value and is useful for those who want to work in more complex areas of advice.
“The proportion of chartered advisers is only 25%,” says Grant.
“But we know from our research that chartered advisers are two to two and a half times more productive than non-chartered advisers. And being chartered has value in certain markets, like long-term care and pension transfers.”
Knowledge and confidence
Becoming chartered involves applying the knowledge gained at diploma level, thereby increasing advisers’ confidence. This can be helpful for young advisers who may be trying to build professional connections or dealing with a lot of older clients who initially do not take them seriously.
“The trouble with being a young person in financial services is credibility,” says Forbes. “If you’re a 21- or 22-year-old adviser dealing with older people, you have to have confidence. Getting your exams gives you credibility and shows clients your commitment to the profession.”
Different awarding bodies lend themselves to particular learning styles
Active Financial Planners chartered financial planner Andrew Gilmore says the knowledge and confidence that becoming chartered bestows are significant.
“It’s always good to be as highly qualified as you can be, and financial services is an area where you need to be at that kind of level,” he says. “We expect new entrants to have that drive. We don’t necessarily expect them to be chartered, but the option is there.”
Planning the journey
Higher professional qualifications are available through the CII, the London Institute of Banking & Finance (LIBF) and the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI). The CISI focuses on Level 7 certified financial planner status, while the CII and LIBF offer chartered status. The CII’s Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning comprises one core unit on the financial planning process — AF5 — and some optional units that are assessed through written exams or coursework.
The LIBF Level 6 Diploma in Financial Advice is assessed through a mix of coursework and exams, and candidates must pass four units. Taxation, Trusts and Tax Compliance, Managing Investments, and Pension Transfers are compulsory units, enabling candidates to choose the Level 4 Long Term Care & Later Life Planning unit or a specialist unit.
It’s always good to be as highly qualified as you can be
Advisers choosing between awarding bodies and specific units must consider the type of client they want to work with.
Some advice firms favour a specific awarding body for various reasons, but others, like Succession Wealth, have no preference.
“What I like about Succession is that I can sit the exams with any of the bodies,” says Jake Bernardi, a financial planner at the firm. “Different bodies lend themselves to particular learning styles.”
Bernardi is studying to become chartered and understands how advisers may want a break from exams after Level 4, before doing the chartered exams.
“After Level 4 there is an element of relief at having some time back to do what you want and focus on the day job,” he says. “There’s no rush to get chartered. However, when you’re preparing for exams, coming out and then going back to studying again isn’t easy.”
Bernardi’s approach is to have a short break from exams after Level 4, then focus on the Level 6 units in areas where he wants to specialise, such as pensions and retirement.
Chartered advisers are two to two and a half times more productive than non-chartered advisers
At Strategic Solutions the approach is less conventional. Instead of doing the Level 4 diploma and then studying the Level 6 units, the firm’s advisers work across both qualifications at the same time, doing units that are grouped together according to subject matter.
“People do the investment exams together and the tax and trust exams together,” says Forbes. “We’ve been successful at this and it means people may get chartered on the same day they get qualified.”
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This article featured in the October 2021 edition of MM.
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As someone deeply immersed in the world of financial planning and professional development, I understand the intricate journey from attaining a diploma to striving for chartered status and beyond. Let's delve into the concepts touched upon in the article you provided:
Diploma Qualification: This signifies a foundational level of expertise in financial planning, typically attained after completing a prescribed course of study and passing relevant exams.
Chartered Status: Going beyond the diploma, chartered status represents a higher level of achievement and expertise in financial planning. It's often associated with advanced qualifications, such as the Chartered Insurance Institute's (CII) Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning.
Professional Development: Continual learning and growth in the field of financial planning, which may involve pursuing higher qualifications, gaining specialized knowledge, and staying updated on industry trends and regulations.
Corporate Chartered Firms: These are firms that have achieved chartered status as an organization, which can impact their recruitment policies and reputation within the industry.
Recruitment Policies: Firms may prioritize hiring chartered financial planners due to the perceived value they bring to the organization and clients.
Client Perception and Credibility: Chartered status can enhance a financial adviser's credibility, especially when dealing with clients, including older individuals who may initially question the expertise of younger advisers.
Qualification Bodies: Different institutions, such as the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), the London Institute of Banking & Finance (LIBF), and the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI), offer qualifications and certifications in financial planning at various levels.
Learning Styles and Preferences: Advisers may choose qualification bodies and specific units based on their preferred learning styles, career goals, and the types of clients they aim to serve.
Professional Productivity: Research suggests that chartered advisers tend to be more productive than their non-chartered counterparts, which can be attributed to their higher level of expertise and confidence.
Strategic Approach to Qualification: There are different approaches to pursuing higher qualifications, including studying for Level 6 units alongside or after completing Level 4 diplomas, depending on individual preferences and organizational strategies.
These concepts illustrate the multifaceted nature of professional development in financial planning and the various factors that advisers consider when deciding to pursue chartered status and advanced qualifications.