The comment was made by prominent financial planner and CII director Sarah Lord on Wednesday during a panel debate at International Adviser’s International Portfolio Bond & Financial Planning Forum in London.
Lord, who spent seven years in the UAE with UK wealth manager Killik & Co, pointed out that the UK standard pales in comparison to the local tax knowledge necessary for international financial planning.
“I agree that the international award from the CII is no use to anyone as far as different jurisdictions [are concerned] as ultimately if someone’s approaching it from a planning perspective then it’s about learning the knowledge of each jurisdiction that you are in.
“There’s no qualification that covers all of that,” she told an audience of financial advisers.
Mark Hassall, director of UK-based IFA firm Moneyology, attended the event and said he was “surprised” by Lord’s “throwaway remark”, defending the CII as a “global institution” which trains advisers around the world.
“I was extremely surprised that we could just rubbish this whole idea that a UK qualification didn’t necessarily have an international standard,” he said.
“It is my contention that if an adviser has been trained by the rigours of the CII and other institutions of financial services in the UK, that with adjustments to culture and local tax rules, he or she will be better placed to give advice than having no qualifications at all.
“Therefore, taking them [CII qualifications] out into the ‘big bad world’ like the UAE and other countries, where they may not be equivalent, they still can and do have validity,” added Hassal, a member of the UK industry body Personal Finance Society.
Financial advisers working outside the UK can complete an international qualification in financial planning that is equivalent to a UK level 2/3 qualification.
The minimum standard in the UK for financial advisers is Level 4 Diploma from the CII.
The CII were contacted for comment at the time of publication.
Lack of cross-border training
Keith Richards, CII managing director of engagement, told IA: “We would agree that there are no financial planning qualifications that would satisfy every regulatory jurisdiction internationally and often advisers will require additional local top up exams to operate compliantly.
“The Chartered Financial Planner status however is becoming more internationally recognised but even this level of qualification would still require country specific tax and regulation knowledge for obvious reason. Europe is currently different as it allows cross-border operation as long as advisers comply with their country of origin’s regulatory requirements.
“The CII’s ACII and FCI qualifications are of course internationally recognised within insurance across most markets around the world and the financial planning part is something the CII is looking at as part of its international remit.”