PARN CEO Professor Andy Friedman was pleased to attend the recent launch of the Chartered Body Alliance. Here he reports back on the event and explores the anticipated impact of this new and very significant partnership.
I attended the launch of the Chartered Body Alliance on 1 March. The purpose of the Alliance is to enhance and sustain professionalism and trust in the financial services sector by helping consumers recognise the benefits of engaging with qualified sector professionals.
This alliance has been formed by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), The Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI) and the Chartered Banker Institute. The three CEOs of these professional bodies were on hand at the launch. Sian Fisher of CII, Simon Culhane of CISI and Simon Thompson of CBI explained that under this common brand the members of the Alliance will undertake a range of initiatives including:
- jointly promoting the importance of professional status
- explaining how their respective qualifications represent the ‘gold standard’ across the sector
- hosting joint events
- carrying out research
- seeking to respond with a united voice to sector consultations that affect members across the three professional bodies.
The CEOs emphasised that these professional bodies have more in common that what divides them; they all, as Chartered bodies, are committed to enhancing the public interest rather than member interests.
The Alliance is not a merger; there will be no consequences for staffing or governance. Each professional body will continue to carry its own brand, its own technical expertise and activities. However, they will talk together on issues of integrity and qualifications. They will try to coordinate their codes of conduct and ethics offerings. They will hold joint events and have mutual recognition of qualifications including partial exemptions for those with one qualification seeking another’s qualification.
The Alliance wasted no time in becoming operational. Soon after the launch, the Alliance issued a press release concerning the new ESMA (European Securities and Markets Authority) guidelines which will require most financial advisers to have ‘qualifications’ from January 2018. The Alliance notes that ESMA do not, in their definition of qualification, distinguish between the value of a five-hour unexamined training course and a benchmark, examined, level 3 (or 4) qualification. The Alliance does not wish to see a ‘race to the bottom’ as commercial providers are already promoting training courses for investment advisers in place of examinations as an easier route to meet the standard.
PARN is very welcoming of the Alliance. It is particularly timely given the challenges to professionalism which came to the surface during the Brexit referendum and the American presidential election. It is also important that with the uncertainties surrounding Brexit and the financial crisis, that certainty of the value of professionalism is reinforced across the professional body sector.