Sarah Lord reflects on her term as PFS president
As I come to the end of my term as president of the Personal Finance Society (PFS), it is clear that the wider economic challenges that have characterised the last two years are far from behind us. The financial services sector was not untouched by pandemic upheavals, with PFS members and their clients facing incredible challenges as they fought for their livelihoods. Throughout, I was proud of the tremendous resilience shown by our profession.
The theme of my presidency has been to build a strong and sustainable profession; and the PFS members have demonstrated that they can meet extraordinary difficulties with extraordinary fortitude.
With challenging times ahead, the importance of the financial planning and advice profession is even more acute. People must be able to easily access secure, reliable, accredited and expert advice from PFS members.
From the onset of the pandemic, the PFS rapidly adapted, connecting virtually and weathering its impacts – something we must continue to do as the cost-of-living crisis intensifies. Alongside this need to adapt, we sought to solidify the PFS as the pre-eminent organisation for the financial planning profession, while clearly defining our members’ work from that of the general insurance profession. Carving out our niche, playing to our strengths and distinguishing our professional services is important, as it helps improve how the society works for its members and their clients.
During my presidency, important strategic considerations came on top of careful, committed work to address significant challenges regarding the PFS executive function and its relationship with the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII). I have been very conscious of the disquiet among members about the state of this relationship and of the issues with professional exams. The exam services provided to members have not been to the basic standard they should expect. This cannot continue. I know how important the smooth, reliable provision of vital exams is to members’ professional futures, and we continue to work with the CII to urgently resolve these issues and ensure that services are of the high quality that members require.
The PFS board feels it is crucial to clarify our self-determination and build a positive, mutually beneficial relationship with the CII that reinforces the unique function of the financial planning sector. This must be underpinned by a new, empowered executive function, advocating above all for PFS members’ interests.
It has been an honour to serve as a PFS director for the last six years
I continue to have total confidence in the professional standing of the sector and I know that it will become even more important as outside shocks pose greater risks to household and business finances. I know the PFS will ensure that as these challenges mount, people can access ever more reliable, transparent, effective advice and services, accredited to the highest standards, from our membership.
It has been an honour to serve as a PFS director for the last six years, so I am pleased to stay on the board as an observer and, while my two years as president have not been without challenges, I am certain that the Society is in a strong position going forward.
Sarah Lord is president of the Personal Finance Society