Rebecca Aston and Hayley Brown reveal why customers are more likely than ever to ‘Choose Chartered’
Chartered status is important to all Chartered firms, as it is an indicator that they have achieved high standards and embodied the principles of the ‘Chartered Ethos: Nurturing Knowledge, Serving Society and Client Centricity’.
It is also increasingly important to clients, who want the reassurance and added confidence that comes with choosing a firm that has publicly committed to the CII Code of Ethics, as well as the importance of placing the customer at the heart of everything they do.
To gain insight into what customers value about Chartered status, the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) runs a biannual survey asking 500 consumers and 500 businesses key questions around how they feel about Chartered status and professionalism within insurance and personal finance.
Encouragingly, the latest survey – undertaken in October to November 2021 – found that the number of consumers and businesses that would choose a Chartered firm has increased significantly from the previous survey (March 2021), rising from 69% to 76%.
There are a number of reasons for this increase in the propensity to ‘Choose Chartered’, including:
- There has been an increase in the number of consumers and businesses that have received professional financial or insurance advice within the last six months. These customers are more likely than others to choose a Chartered firm in the future.
- There was a significant increase (from 37% to 46%) in consumers saying that one of the reasons they chose a Chartered firm was because the firm was recommended to them.
- There was a significant increase (from 33% to 43%) in businesses saying the reason they chose a Chartered firm was because they are associated with high professional standards, as well as being proven experts in their subject area (up from 32% to 37%).
Therefore, a key reason for people choosing Chartered firms seems to be that they have recently received excellent service from a Chartered firm or have been recommended to the firm by a friend or family member. Hence, it is the work of Chartered firms in providing good service and demonstrating professionalism that is the key driver behind the increased propensity to choose a Chartered firm.
The results of the survey are therefore an indication of the hard work and dedication of CII Chartered firms, and we wanted to hear from them about what they think ‘the Chartered difference’ is, and what they value about Chartered status.
We approached our newest Chartered financial planning firm, Punter Southall Aspire, to ask what being Chartered means for the business.
Bryan Parkinson, financial planning managing director, said: “Since creating our business, we have been working very hard to ensure we reach the goal of achieving Chartered status. We have long recognised the positive benefits this can bring on a number of levels and we are delighted to have recently been awarded this prestigious status. We were determined to achieve Chartered status because it complements our commitment to the development of our staff’s knowledge and also helps us to attract the highest calibre of recruits.
“Most importantly, as a Chartered firm, our clients can be assured that they will be treated fairly and receive exceptional advice from highly qualified financial planners who are committed to the highest level of professional standards.”
Henry Denne, head of financial planning at Punter Southall Wealth, told us: “As members of a Chartered firm, our financial planners adhere to the CII’s Code of Ethics, which underpins a broader commitment to professional values. This includes putting our clients’ interests first, investing in the ongoing development of our people’s technical skills and knowledge, as well as supporting wider initiatives that benefit society. Our Chartered status is a widely accepted hallmark of professionalism that gives confidence to our individual clients and professional introducers alike.”
These statements link with additional research from the Chartered Perception Index survey, which asks customers why they would choose a Chartered firm. The results show that accreditation by a professional body is the main driver to choose a Chartered firm for both consumers and businesses, followed by a commitment to good practice and good customer outcomes, and an ethical code of conduct.
Saunderson House, which has the highest ratio of Chartered to non-Chartered financial planners of any of the CII’s Chartered financial planning firms, has an approach towards Chartered status that is reflective of the reasons consumers choose Chartered firms.
Tony Overy, the firm’s CEO, notes: “Chartered status is the ultimate symbol of professionalism. It reassures customers and presents a positive business perception. To attain it, a company must comply with certain criteria, part of which is to train relevant workforce departments via accreditation and ensure they abide by a particular code of ethics.”
It is clear, then, that Chartered status brings benefits to both firms and customers – with the former valuing the status and support given to them from the CII; and the latter gaining access to a high-quality service.
The CII will continue to monitor the reasons why customers ‘Choose Chartered’ and to share insights with the CII Chartered community, but it is the hard work of Chartered firms – of all sizes and specialisms – which has resulted in a significant increase in the propensity of customers to choose or recommend a Chartered firm.
Rebecca Aston is professional standards manager and Hayley Brown is corporate development manager, both at the CII