As the firm is unauthorised in the UK the FCA duly issued a warning to investors to watch out. It’s not yet known if there were any victims of this firm but the business is not the first, and will not be the last, to try to capitalise on the respected profession of Financial Planning.
Reading the story again it occurred to me that the threats to Financial Planning firms in future may increasingly come from businesses trying to use, or rather abuse, the term Financial Planning as its value grows.
Huge efforts has been poured into the profession by the professional bodies; PFS, CISI, LIBF, STEP and others to create a valued and respected sector. While things aren’t perfect to a large extent they have succeeded in creating a professional sector which is going places.
In contrast, to my knowledge the term ‘financial adviser’ was never protected properly in law, a big blunder in my view, but the terms Chartered Financial Planner, Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Wealth Manager and similar are protected. The downside is that as these designations grow in value more will try to abuse them, whether from overseas or domestically.
Financial crooks will always try to hide behind the mantle of respectability.
There have also been cases of some firms using protected designations longer than they were allowed to (for example after they left a professional body). Some of the adviser directory sites have been more than a little tardy in removing designations that no longer apply.
Consumers certainly need more help in identifying the value of professional designations too and their differences so the professional bodies have more to do.
It would be a shame if all the hard work over the past 10 years was wasted by rogues using the terms ‘Financial Planner’, ‘Paraplanner’ or the like.
We’ll shortly be publishing our annual Financial Planning Survey next week in the next issue of Financial Planning Today magazine. It shows a sector mainly in robust good health with some modest concerns for the future. One encouraging fact is that many of our readers welcome the recently-announced FCA review of advice.
Well-qualified, professional advisers feel they have little to fear from the review. Others who aren’t in this bracket may be feeling differently…
Kevin O’Donnell is editor of Financial Planning Today and a financial journalist with over 30 years of experience. This topical comment on the news appears most weeks.