As the PFS prepares for a return to face-to-face events, Matthew Connell reveals what the Society is currently working on, as well as an update on the FCA
As we move into autumn and the school holidays come to an end, it's always difficult to second guess how the reopening of the country may play out, but here at the PFS we are very excited to be preparing our first in-person round of roadshows since March last year.
Interest in the events is already extremely high and it reminds us that no matter how good an online webinar can be, nothing replaces face-to-face events for networking opportunities and the chance for professionals to compare notes with their peers.
Meeting the sector experts who are preparing for our events is a reminder for me of how much of a draw a PFS audience is as well as how seriously speakers across the investment space take the opportunity to talk to PFS members.
Although the work of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) slowed down somewhat at the beginning of lockdown, the regulator has been doing a significant amount of research during this period and produced an important set of proposals on the consumer duty of care in the summer.
Though the duty of care consultation was lengthy and much of it focuses on ironing out some of the more minor inconsistencies in consumer protection between different financial services sectors, at the heart of it is the FCA's model of good practice – which consists of developing a proposition, monitoring how it plays out in practice, analysing the outcomes for consumers, learning about its strengths and weaknesses and then developing a new proposition designed to produce even better outcomes for consumers.
This is a fairly simple model, developed for use by firms. Financial advice practitioners will often use much more sophisticated governance models. However, these four elements will be in any good practice model and the FCA has declared that one key difference to its approach in future will be much less tolerance for firms that ignore the process altogether. That's not to say that it expects perfection, quite the opposite, it expects firms to acknowledge that nothing is perfect in the real world, but that they will always be striving to find what isn't working and to improve it.
Meeting the sector experts who are preparing for our events is a reminder for me of how much of a draw a PFS audience is as well as how seriously speakers across the investment space take the opportunity to talk to PFS members
Shaping the future together
No organisation can survive for long without continuously trying to improve and that truth certainly applies to the PFS and the wider Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) group, of which the PFS is a part. During the CII annual general meeting, we announced that we are undertaking a consultation about how the CII works with and supports its members to increase trust in financial services and insurance. There will be a special focus on examining our engagement with members and asking if it is adequate.
At time of writing, we are getting ready to launch the consultation – Shaping the Future Together – which is designed to engage with key stakeholders to create a strategy to guide our organisation for the next five years. We are looking for as many views as possible as well as feedback that is direct and honest, both in terms of written responses and participation in a wide range of meetings that we will be holding to the end of the year.
Once we have received all the responses to the consultation, we will publish a feedback document designed to play back members’ opinions and to demonstrate that everything you wanted us to know has been heard. We are determined to conduct a process that is comprehensive and transparent.
In the meantime, we will continue to engage with members in person through events like our investment roadshows and I look forward to meeting you there.
Dr Matthew Connell is policy and public affairs director of the PFS
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