But as a profession as a whole, we should all take an interest in swelling our ranks.
For that reason, it was good to read that Campbell Edgar, in his role as the CISI’s Head of Financial Planning, believes the number of CFP professionals in the UK should grow by 587 during the next five years, from the 962 we have today to a new level of 1,549 by 2022.
This is the CISI, as the CFP licence holder in the UK, doing its bit to help global CFP numbers rise to 250,000 by 2025.
Why do we need more CFP professionals? As the shift from financial advice to financial planning continues, the CFP certification remains the only real option in the UK for demonstrating competence to deliver real financial planning. The CII’s Chartered Financial Planner title continues to lead the pack in terms of demonstrating technical competence, but for financial planning itself, CFP is where it’s at.
This supply-driven increase in financial planning will coincide with greater demand for what we do, especially as the post-war baby boomer generation reaches retirement and has to tackle increasingly complex financial issues.
The benefit of living longer means a more challenging approach to allocating financial resources in later life, with individuals often squeezed between the demands of adult children and elderly parents, combined with their own dreams to fulfil in life. In a post global financial crisis world, with low interest rates and even lower investment return expectations, there’s nothing simple about making sure you don’t run out of money before you run out of life.
Thinking back to the ambition to grow the number of UK CFP professionals by a net 10% a year, I believe the CISI has a real challenge on their hands. It is of course possible (anything you set out to achieve is) but is it likely they will deliver this level of growth in each of the next five years?
I’ve been openly critical about the approach to the Financial Planning community demonstrated by the post-merger CISI. I hope this criticism is received constructively, as personally I’m proud to be a CFP professional - and, since the merger, a Chartered Wealth Manager too.
Without the resurgence of an enthusiastic, supportive and Financial Planning led community within the wider CISI, it seems unlikely that those of us on the ground will be actively recruiting others to become CFP professionals. That is, after all, what it will take to achieve these growth targets.
There are just shy of 1,000 CFP professionals in the UK today. We could easily double this number within a couple of years if each of us were to convince just one colleague of the merits of this professional standard. Before the merger, when there was an active Financial Planning branch programme in every region, this sort of recruitment was happening quite regularly, with guests being invited to attend meetings and experience the culture for themselves.
Imagine that approach again, but combined with the new streamlined pathway to CFP accreditation. If anything, it should be easier to convince Financial Planners to become CFP professionals today than ever before; since the end of 2012, every practising Financial Planner in this country is already Diploma qualified. There is also the added sweetener of being awarded the Chartered Wealth Manager title on completion of the CFP certification, subject of course to the online ethics test.
1,500 CFP professionals delivering professional financial planning services in this country within the next five years is an admirable target. To get there, the CISI needs to first recruit its most valuable resource as advocates; there are 962 of us waiting for the rallying call.
Martin Bamford CFPTM Chartered MCSI FPFS is managing director at Informed Choice.
He is a Chartered Financial Planner, Chartered Wealth Manager and a SOLLA Accredited Later Life Adviser