Keith Richards provides an update on the international reach of the CII and the PFS
Six years ago, the PFS board put in place a plan to evolve the professional body’s role and purpose to be “modern, relevant and inclusive”.
To be inclusive in 2020 means extending our reach beyond the borders of UK in alignment with the Chartered Insurance Institute’s (CII) broader strategy.
The CII has offices in Mumbai, Hong Kong and Dubai and relationships with training organisations and other institutes in more than 150 countries, but until recently, these have been insurance-only focused. Similar to the UK, financial advice in these regions is evolving away from general insurance and as a result, the need and demand for financial planning qualifications is growing significantly.
As a result of this global evolution, the PFS has seen a growing number of international members and it is therefore vital that the society reaches out overseas to build the credibility, value and reputation of your profession, as well as to better support existing members around the world.
More than 12,000 of the 127,000 CII and PFS members are currently operating outside the UK. As 2019 draws to a close, I want to update you on some of the work that has taken place to establish and continue to build relationships with regulators, governments and affiliate institutes beyond the UK’s shores in the past 12 months.
Regulators and policymakers
The raising of professional standards is a key area of focus for regulators and governments across the world, while countries are becoming more aligned as policymakers meet regularly to share experiences and good practice.
As chief executive of your professional body, I am regularly called upon to share how we work in the UK to raise standards and increase public trust in financial services.
During the course of the past year, I have been actively working with governments, regulators, employers, educational institutions and many others across 10 countries where formal relationships with the CII and PFS have been established.
These initiatives demonstrate a new era for professional body and regulatory collaboration
China, Hong Kong, Japan, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man have seen key developments in the last 12 months and come to an array of agreements on qualifications and consumer initiatives.
The fact the CII and PFS have internationally respected qualifications and experience of working with the UK government on financial services reforms means that overseas bodies are keen to engage with us from both a market and consumer perspective.
Among the agreements that have been reached in the last year are a memorandum of understanding with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority to adopt the CII qualification framework, and a contract with the Insurance Authority of UAE for the adoption of the CII’s qualifications for insurance.
We have worked with the Bangladesh government, Myanmar government and the World Bank on development of financial planning and insurance standards.
Our experience educating and informing consumers in the UK has helped the PFS deliver joint consumer initiatives on behalf of the profession with the Jersey Financial Services Commission, Isle of Man Financial Services Authority and the Guernsey Financial Services Commission.
These initiatives demonstrate a new era for professional body and regulatory collaboration – no longer just focusing on rules but also engaging and educating the public to make sensible financial decisions.
With the support of the UK’s Department of International Trade and local embassy support in Beijing and Shenzhen, we have forged a number of key relationships in China during the past few months.
A visit to Hong Kong earlier this year resulted in a memorandum of understanding being signed with a Chinese thinktank and Peking University to develop a PFS for Asia.
With more than 8.5 million advisers in China, this is a unique collaboration and an amazing opportunity for the PFS’s members, as it will create stronger collaboration where both business and the sharing of ‘good practice’ will be the result, as well as a more significant professional body for financial planning more broadly.
In early 2019, we set up a new international engagement group to better coordinate our international operations and prioritise new developments.
The world is becoming a smaller place and the regulatory framework is becoming more aligned, so the sharing of experience, common issues and good practice standards is an activity that a professional body and its members must engage in.
With the launch of the PFS Connect e-mentoring platform in 2019, we have seen that our members recognise the importance of connecting with their counterparts across the world. At our recent graduation ceremony, a number of Chartered members requested support with introductions – recognising the potential in other parts of the world for qualified planners and we were able to connect them via our international regional teams.
Connect is an online platform that makes it easy for you to establish and develop mentoring relationships, giving you the flexibility to choose how you would like to work together.
In the past, financial advisers could only have hoped for a mentor from their own business but now they are able to reach out across the globe and learn from counterparts thousands of miles away.
With the agreements I have outlined, talks with regulators and governments, I think whether Brexit finally happens or not in the next 12 months, 2020 will see us continue to evolve into a united international profession.
This work goes towards creating a vibrant international profession – one that the PFS’s members are a key
Keith Richards is CEO of the PFS