I have based my business on this, as well as qualifications, transparency, ethos and philosophy believing that in a perfect symbiotic relationship they all come as one.
So I find myself at a bit of a quandary, because writing this article has led me to question this.
I have realised you can hire and buy people with qualifications, but the others do not necessarily follow.
For many years I thought chartered firms, and I do distinguish between a chartered firm and a chartered financial planner, stood at the top of the tree. My mistake was that although my firm was one, I believed that chartered status represented a subjective and objective claim on somehow being better.
I concede I am wrong, something I frequently have to do more regularly than I would like with my children.
Many clients and chartered financial planners, thinking the same as I did, will believe that a chartered financial planning firm is likely to lead to better outcomes, better advice and more considered strategic planning. For small chartered firms in the UK, or firms with multiple chartered financial planners making up the majority of their planning team, this may be true.
The problem is that clients would be wrong if they apply this principle to every chartered firm, which I find extremely disappointing, since my firm is one.
A chartered firm is simply one that meets the objective requirements as laid down by the UK’s Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) on an application form, and promises to follow those requirements.
So how many chartered financial advisers, say in a firm of 100 advisers mostly offshore, do you have to have to qualify? 50% or more, maybe 75%?
The answer is you only need one, and a little bit of constructive planning at board level making him or her a director. For safety, perhaps recruit a second one, especially as the CII is considering bringing in slightly tougher rules.
My own firm has more than 60% of all registered advisers with the chartered distinction and a further two non-registered advisers with the same distinction.
However, the smarter larger firms can now just obtain the distinction with one adviser as a director because it is an objective based application. If you meet the standard, you can pay a fee for the qualification.