The Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) has increased the requirements for members to become certified financial planners.

The CISI has restructured the study pathway for UK candidates for the certified financial planner (CFP) certification, with the changes making the professional body’s level seven diploma the highest-level financial planning qualification in the UK.

Candidates looking to complete the new study pathway to CFP certification will need to meet entry requirements for the new CISI level six certificate in advanced financial planning exam, followed by a financial plan assessment at level seven.

This means an adviser can only hold the UK CFP licence, which is annually renewable with the professional body, once they have three years’ relevant experience, have taken the CISI Integrity Test, are CISI members and log annual CPD.

Jacqueline Lockie, head of financial planning for CISI, said: “We have worked hard, with the support of FPSB Ltd, the CISI Financial Planning Forum Committee, other CFP professionals and specialists, to restructure the UK study pathway to CFP certification to equip financial planners with the skills, abilities and knowledge to build robust financial plans to help clients meet their financial and lifestyle objectives. Our CFP professionals will make a real difference helping the public understand how financial planning can improve their financial lives.”

At the end of last year there were 181,360 CFP professionals globally, with organisations delivering or preparing to deliver CFP certification in 26 countries.

Noel Maye, chief executive officer of Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB), added: “CISI has made great progress putting in place the training and development components of a world-class financial planning certification program in the UK. FPSB looks forward to continuing to work with CISI to grow substantially the number of CFP professionals so that consumers in the UK will have increased access to competent, ethical financial planners, who put their clients’ interests first.”

The new CISI Level 6 Certificate in Advanced Financial Planning will require 200 study hours, a recommended reading list and a narrative exam with sittings twice a year in March and September.

The syllabus will be available in early March, with the workbook due in May. A sample exam paper will be available in July 2019.

Commenting on the changes, Scott Gallacher, financial planner at Rowley Turton, said: “Whilst an internationally recognised standard, the certified financial planner (CFP) certification has struggled somewhat to gain widespread take up from UK advisers.

“Historically there was some criticism that the assessments of the case study were too random with little understanding from advisers as to why some had been approved and others had failed.

“My own interest in obtaining the CFP dropped somewhat when they started on insisting on their own exam in addition to the case study. This was rather than accepting advisers who had passed other bodies equivalent exams. Taking another exam to prove my existing knowledge wasn’t particular appealing having worked hard to achieve the CII’s Chartered Financial Planner status.

“Consequently, whilst raising standards is to be generally welcomed, I suspect that this further raising of the bar will simply reduce UK advisers’ interest in the CFP standard.”

Aamina Zafar is one of the UK’s leading financial journalists. She has previously worked as a senior reporter at FT’s Financial Adviser. The award-winning journalist writes regularly on the IFA community, mortgages, pensions and financial regulation.

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