Keith Richards explains what the PFS is doing to support you and looks forward to a better future
The start of the year can often be challenging and, as 2021 begins, we have had even more to contend with than usual: lockdown, Brexit, new regulatory challenges and floods across much of the country. At this time, we understand how important it is for your professional body to step up and give support.
In the run-up to Brexit, we partnered with the European Financial Planning Association (EFPA). As firms’ ability to passport across borders disappears with the introduction of the new UK-EU trade agreement, advisers will now need to understand the rules that exist in each member state to offer advice to people in that country.
The EFPA is a European network of certificating bodies that recognises Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) qualifications and which can help PFS members to negotiate the regulatory requirements in each state. All PFS advisers who are qualified to give advice in the UK automatically receive an EFPA certificate, giving them recognition within the EU that many other professions have lost with Brexit.
Closer to home, we are producing a series of continuing professional development (CPD) webinars for pension transfer specialists. The new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) training and competence requirements for transfer specialists require completion of 15 hours a year of CPD dedicated to pension transfer issues, five of which must be from an independent source. We are delighted that we can provide this for all PFS members and look forward to engaging with many of you on this crucial issue.
The pandemic has reminded us of the issues that elderly and disabled people have to face – not only in terms of health but also in terms of securing the support they need to meet basic needs, as well as the frustration they face when they have to interact with a system that is rarely designed with them
This is one of the reasons the PFS has launched the independent Financial Vulnerability Taskforce, with the aim of helping the profession to better recognise and address the various forms of consumer vulnerability, improve client outcomes and increase access to financial advice.
Financial advisers wishing to adopt the Financial Vulnerability Charter must commit to the nine core consumer guide pledges, including encouraging clients to self-declare any vulnerability safe in the knowledge the advice they receive will be as good as that received by those who are not in vulnerable circumstances, confidentiality will be maintained and the way they will be treated will be fully compliant with relevant legislation.
The guidance fleshes out many requirements that are implicit in FCA principles and guidance and provides a meaningful focus on vulnerability. Advisers will probably find that they are doing most of the things required by the guidance already but it gives focus and recognition to good work already being done across the country. I would encourage every member of the financial planning and advice profession to support the taskforce by adopting the Charter and its new digital logo.
In the spirit of providing support to all members of the public, at the end of last year we produced an online, news-style programme called Financial Wellbeing in partnership with ITN. Unlike many resources for consumers, which tend to focus solely on financial services products, this looks at the importance of financial planning, how to get the right financial advice and looks at other important skills like recognising and avoiding financial scams. We hope this is the kind of programme that will promote the benefits of financial planning and make a real difference to people’s lives.
Although the beginning of 2021 has been tough, we have learned a lot about ourselves and each other. I firmly believe that the tireless work of advisers and the passion they have for doing the right thing for their clients will stand us in good stead as we look to build stronger and fairer communities as the country gets back into its stride.
Keith Richards is CEO of the Personal Finance Society
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For more information and to offer your feedback, please visit:
PFS member email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Financial Vulnerability Taskforce: www.thepfs.org/financial-vulnerability-taskforce
Pension Transfer Gold Standard: thepfs.org/ptgs
PFS financial planning and good practice: pfspower.org
Good practice hub: thepfs.org/good-practice
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