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Polish the skills as entries for Financial Planner of the Year open

11 March 2015 Jonathan Faurie

Industry recognition goes a long way to highlighting the top performers in the financial services industry, which gives clients the peace of mind that they are dealing with companies or advisers who are at the top of their game and strive for industry excellence.

Not only does it highlight excellence in the industry, but it also encourages healthy competition among those who want to be a recognised name in the industry. Entries have now opened for the Financial Planning Institute’s (FPI) Financial Planner of the Year award.

Encouraging true value

As a society, South Africa is relatively uneducated when it comes to the financial services industry. Very few of us know about the products that exist in the industry, and the value that separates one product from another.

The Financial Services Board is hoping to address this, but there can be no substitute for the value the public can find in the expert advice of a financial planner who has been in the industry for a number of years, and has the relevant industry qualifications to provide sound financial advice.

The harsh reality of this is that there is a dire need for this type of education to take place in South Africa. In a previous interview with FAnews, Barry O'Mahony (CFP), Founder of Veritas Wealth Management and 2013 Financial Planner of the Year pointed out that South Africans lack the very basics when it comes to basic savings principles.

"The level of education regarding basic saving is really bad. Stokvels are huge savings vehicles in this country, particularly among lower income earners, yet they are saving 7% through stokvel participation while paying off debts where interest rates are between 15% and 30%. There needs to be basic saving education introduced at a secondary school level. This is important," said O’Mahony.

Tough criteria

Addressing the media at the launch of the 2015 awards, FPI CEO, Godfry Nti, pointed out that there is a tough judging criteria when it comes to judging these awards. “In support of FPI’s commitment to improving the quality of professional financial planning for all, this award recognises the most proficient professional financial planner in the industry. The judging criteria is rigorous and examines the professional’s level of expertise and commitment to their clients,” said Nti.

Judged by an independent panel of industry experts, academics and the FPI Board of Directors, the award is the highest industry accolade achievable by a professional financial planner. 

Entrants will have the opportunity to demonstrate their expertise, which is evaluated as follows:

•           Round 1 - A portfolio of evidence which will include a detailed financial plan prepared by the CFP professional and the completion of a Business Assessment Tool;

•           Round 2 - An assessment during the judging panel’s site visit to assess the entrant’s practice based on all aspects of compliance, practice management and financial planning processes; and 

•           Round 3 - A panel interview, this assesses the entrant’s competency, practice management skills and knowledge of the wider financial planning industry.

Vital weapon

Knowledge has always been described as one of the most powerful assets you can have. Encouraging competition in the industry is a way of ensuring excellence as advisers strive to prove that they are the best that the industry has to offer.

2014 FPI Financial Planner of the Year winner, Peter Hewett, CFP said; “The FPI Financial Planner of the Year title is indeed the greatest industry honour that one can receive. My win has provided me with an excellent opportunity to further raise the profile of CFP professionals and that of the financial planning industry. From a personal perspective, the recognition has enhanced my level of professional success by elevating my profile among my clients and industry peers.  As the winner becomes a brand ambassador for FPI and the CFP mark, the media exposure is significant.  In addition to this, the title enables me to promote my practice through various corporate and public speaking events.”

As the public moves to a position where it becomes more knowledgeable about the financial services industry and the products it sells, it is becoming clear that the rapport which the adviser builds with their client must be one based on trust and innovation.

This is obviously quite a task and may take a number of years to achieve, and without the right tools, this might be a lot harder to achieve. Equipping advisers with the right tools was the purpose of the Financial Planning Institute (FPI) Convention.

The 2015 FPI Financial Planner of the Year winner, as well as runners-up, will be announced at the FPI Professional’s Convention Gala Dinner on Wednesday, 24 June 2015. Entries for the competition must be submitted to FPI by close of business on Friday, 13 March 2015.

Editor’s Thoughts:
Building a relationship with clients that is based on trust increases the possibility of advisers upselling products to clients and turning them into an ongoing source of income rather than just a once off deal. In a world where remuneration will be changed by the Retail Distribution Review, this may prove the differentiating factor between a good adviser and an adviser that will struggle to fit in post RDR implementation. Please comment below, interact with us on Twitter at @fanews_online or email me your thoughts jonathan@fanews.co.za.

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