Opinion piece for the Financial Planning Magazine on being a Certified Financial Planner
As our industry and profession continues to evolve, I still see a level of consumer trepidation, uncertainty and cynicism about the financial planning industry and the role of a financial adviser. And can we blame them?
The long-term investment underperformance following the GFC, the constant government amendments to the superannuation rules, the hangover from the Storm, Trio and Westpoint failings, the continued negativity from some areas of the media, and an ongoing perception that many advisers still benefit from lucrative, and conflicted, commission-based products that in some cases resulted in significant exit fees, only goes to increase the lack of trust.
However, there have been major advances in the professionalism of the financial planning industry over recent years. There have been legislative changes such as FSR and, currently, FoFA, which will reduce conflicts of interest and should improve the trust and confidence of both current and future clients. The FPA has also made significant progress in supporting advisers and promoting advice as a profession – particularly by raising the professional requirements and standards through the CFP designation.
Now more than ever, consumers are seeking to differentiate between good and bad financial planners. They have a greater understanding of what constitutes a high quality financial planning process and are becoming aware of the increasing number of professional financial planners, that is those who provide great advice to their clients and are endeared and respected as the ‘trusted adviser’, held in the same light as the accountant, doctor and lawyer. The trick is for the consumer to select the right financial planner.
The CFP credential is now widely recognised and has definitely provided me with an advantage when speaking with prospective clients. I liken it to choosing a restaurant in a foreign country where language is a barrier. Given a wide choice, you would most likely prefer to eat at the Michelin star rated restaurant knowing that they have been rigorously reviewed and meet the highest possible standards.
As the industry’s highest attainable professional designation, being a CFP professional has been a major factor in my ability to attract new clients, differentiate myself from peers, build a business for the future, and enjoy that ‘trusted adviser’ status with my clients.