Although money is a big part of our everyday lives, taking the time to speak to a professional about it isn’t always a top priority. But whether you’re planning for retirement, selling a business or just wanting a sense check on your finances, financial planning can be an invaluable investment of your time.
One of the boundaries to advice that many people face is finding a financial advisor they can trust. And with lots of firms to choose from, it can be hard to understand the differences. And, if you have a financial planner already, you’ll want to know that your finances are in a capable pair of hands. So looking out for Chartered Financial Planning firms that have been accredited with Chartered status is a great starting point.
What is a Chartered Financial Planning firm?
In most industries, you’ll find a professional body that sets a high bar and offers different levels of qualifications to demonstrate an individual’s professionalism, commitment to the profession and ability to put the client’s best interests first.
The Chartered Financial Planner accreditation is regulated by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII). Also known as the ‘gold standard’ of financial planning. It can be awarded on two levels; individually to financial professionals or to an organisation where the firm is awarded Corporate Chartered Financial Planner status.
Individual Chartered Financial Planners
Individuals can be awarded Chartered Financial Planner status once they have completed the Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning (AFPS) and met the minimum criteria for industry experience of 5 years. And therefore demonstrating that they have achieved a significantly high level of qualifications.
There are different routes to reach Chartered Financial planner status, all of which are rigorous, depending on which areas of study a person wants to specialise. First, however, they must pass approximately 14 exams covering different financial services and related topics, totalling 290 credits.
To receive and maintain this badge of honour, individuals have made a public commitment to professionalism and must maintain a standard of excellence across their business practices, continued professional development, ethics and qualifications.
Corporate Chartered Financial Planner status
For a financial planning firm to gain corporate Chartered Financial Planners status, 50% of the planners in their firm must hold Chartered Financial Planner status, including one of its board members.
Alongside this, the firm has to meet the rigorous criteria of the CII’s professional standards and demonstrate positive social impact through its core values, business practices, and a diversity and inclusion policy that aligns with the Code of Ethics.
Each year the firm is reassessed to ensure they still meet and maintain the CII’s high standards and criteria.
Who are the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII)?
The CII is a “professional body dedicated to building public trust in the insurance and financial planning profession”. It was first formed in 1912 when the Federation of Insurance Institutes of Great Britain and Ireland was granted Royal Charter status by the Privy Council of King George V.
The CII have more than 125,000 members worldwide, all of whom commit to the high professional standards set out by the CII. However, of the more than 5,000 financial adviser firms operating in the UK, only around 700 (14%) are Chartered Financial Planning firms.
Why should you choose a Chartered Financial Planning firm?
There’s a lot of financial planning firms out there, each offering different specialisms. With so much choice, it can be hard to know who to turn to. Being a Chartered Financial Planning firm is like having a badge of honour within the industry. So why does this set firms apart from the rest? We take a look at the main reasons to choose a Chartered Financial Planning Firm:
The best quality advice
According to the CII, when choosing a Chartered Financial Planning firm, “you are choosing a business that has reached an objective standard of technical knowledge and conduct, a business that will follow good practice and ensure their skills are up to date with market standards.” So you should know you are in the right hands.
Trust is the word
Financial planning is a long journey; it sets out a plan for the rest of your life to get you to where you want to be, helping you achieve your goals along the way. The initial plan addresses your immediate priorities first. And then you work with a financial planner to continue on the right track. Arguably your ongoing reviews are equally as important as the initial plan. Your circumstances inevitably change, as well as other social, economic or political factors. And anytime something changes, personal or otherwise, you’ll need to go back to the drawing board and adapt your plan.
Financial planning is a long-term commitment. And it requires work, so you’ll want to find a financial planner you can trust. Someone who will put your best interests first, be open and honest about what they do and how they charge and keep you in the loop every step of the way.
Don’t be afraid to shop around and speak to different planners; most offer a free initial consultation, and we’ve got a checklist of questions to ask them when you do.
The cream of the crop
Since being a Chartered Financial Planning firm is seen as the gold standard of financial planning, attaining this accreditation is no easy feat. For this reason, only a small number of firms have been awarded it, with only five Chartered Financial Planning firms in Nottingham (including Balance: Wealth Planning).
If you think a conversation with a financial planner will help you and are wondering about why you might want to speak to a Chartered Financial Planning firm in particular, watch this video below to find out more:
If you would like to discuss your finances or you have any questions at all, please feel free to get in touch with us any time to have a chat with one of our independent financial advisers.