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By Morningstar News Team| 10-18-2013 6:01 AM

What's Frustrating Financial Advisers?

Finding top-quality staff, attracting new advisers to the industry and frustration with the regulator are among issues hampering financial planners

Jon Standring: Today I’m talking with Steve Gazzard, acting CEO of the IFP. Welcome, Steve.

Steve Gazzard: Hi, Jon.

Standring: Wanted to sort of talk to the three issues that you're hearing from members at the moment.

Gazzard: Well, in a particular order; firstly, it's the ability to find really good high quality staff who understand financial planning. So, there is a lot of people out there who have done their qualifications, but not many that understand financial planning as our members would describe it. So that's the one thing. I think as well it's the volume in the marketplace. So, I mean, I think what we do need to work really hard is to get new entrants in, whether we can do that through power planning, through apprenticeship, all of that are things that we are looking at.

I think the other things we're hearing and things that we are working on is a frustration, the lack of understanding of real financial planning by the regulator. I know Martin Wheatley has made some comments about charging structures and maybe that wasn't aimed at real financial planning, but I think there is a concern. Again, we are working with the regulator to try and make sure that as many people within that environment understand it as possible.

Finally, linked to that probably would be the fees and levies that are coming out from the regulator; not necessarily taking into account the lower risk that we believe you would find within a corporate financial planning business.

Standring: So, the theme of the conference this year is ‘Back to the Future’. What's the title about?

Gazzard: Good question. I didn't come up with, but here is my take on it. Actually, most of our members have been working in an RDR-compliant way for a numbers of years. Now some are developing, we help them develop, but most have been working RDR compliantly. So, for us, it's about saying, okay, what can we learn from the past and bring to the future. So actually we take the initial objectives of RDR and we try and deliver them, because I think some would say if you go back to the original objectives, they haven't quite been met.

So we've been working in this environment for a while. What can we look at? How can we influence the future of the profession and the industry by really – as, again, promoting those highest quality standards and the service that clients really need to take advantage of the financial planners and really get the most out of their future.

Standring: Okay. So one of your focuses at the moment is encouraging advisors to become certified financial planners. What’s involved in that and what's the advantage of becoming – getting that status?

Gazzard: Well, the Certified Financial Planner certification is for the individual, so obviously we have a number of members who run their own businesses. So we promote both the individual level of accreditation, CFP, and the firm level of accreditation, the Accredited Financial Planning Firm. In terms of the Certified Financial Planner, CFP, the advantage there is that it tests the application of knowledge. So, what we're looking at is really helping planners, power planners, other professionals to develop on that understanding of the technical aspects in a way that would help them to deliver a financial plan fully compliant, really helpful, useful, that justifies fees through to a client. So that's what the CFP is trying to test, the application, and we do that two ways.

One, we test some of the knowledge that's required through an exam that we've just launched, the rest of it is tested through a case study. So we can actually say, here is a case study, produce a plan according to our set of standards which are built on global principles and, hopefully, that will help you learn something in the process and gain a qualification and certification that really you can be proud of going forward.

Standring: So finally, Steve, what's been the highlight of the conference for you so far?

Gazzard: Undoubtedly, the appearance of Nick Cann, our CEO, so I'm, of course, interim CEO while Nick recovers from his stroke. It's just been, well, one, fantastic to see him here. Slightly embarrassing that he is wearing a tie and I am not. So he has shown me professionalism, I think it has to be. But fantastic to see him here and engaging with so many friends and colleagues who, again, are pleased to see him, and so that’s undoubtedly the highlight.

Standring: Thanks, Steve.

Gazzard: Thanks, Jon.

Standring: For Morningstar, I’m Jon Standring. Thanks for watching.

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