The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) has laid out its plans to overhaul the corporate Chartered status for firms, in a drive to achieve greater trust among consumers and raise standards across the profession.
Key to the changes are more formalised criteria about what is expected of Chartered firms which goes far beyond just technical competency.
"Firms at the pinnacle of professionalism must be able to complement knowledge with good business practices (conduct), and an ethical working environment (culture)," the consultation document states.
"Customers' expectations are that if a firm cannot reach high standards in each of these areas, it does not deserve to receive chartered status."
As part of its review of the corporate Chartered brand, the CII interviewed consumers, small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and individuals from Chartered and non-Chartered firms.
Regarding standards, the feedback was that Chartered firms must encourage products and services which meet genuine consumer needs, provide value for money, build customer understanding, deliver positive outcomes and that are delivered with integrity.
The public said that Chartered financial planners should adhere to the following principles around conduct, culture, and competency:
Display the highest standards of ethical conduct and good governance, going well beyond minimum regulatory requirements and demonstrate commitment to excellent customer outcomes.
Display exceptional standards of transparency, accountability and behaviour.
Display technical and up-to-date knowledge beyond any regulatory minimum.
To measure whether firms have reached those standards, the CII has proposed a set of criteria with which to evaluate them. These are:
Leadership: At least one of the firm's appropriate management team must personally hold the CII Chartered financial planner title, and take on the role of responsible member.
The role of Chartered individuals: Chartered individuals are prominent in the customer advice process through one or more of the following means:
- At least 50% of those providing advice are Chartered individuals
- A Chartered individual triages all new customers
- A Chartered individual signs off all advice before it is issued.
Should they request it, all customers should have access to a chartered financial planner.
Professional development: The firm has in place an appropriate professional development programme, with continuing professional development available to all staff.
Policies and reviews: Good conduct is embedded through effective policies and reviews in the following areas:
- Service level standards;
- Customer satisfaction measurement;
- Marketing and documentation;
- Complaint handling;
- Supplier relationships;
- Quality control and file review;
- Product selection.
Behaviour: The firm must promote the highest standards of behaviour through core values and business practices that align with the CII code of ethics.
Ethics: The following must be members of the CII and therefore subject to the CII code of ethics:
- The entire board or appropriate management team.
- A minimum of 90% of customer-facing staff, and senior executives whose role requires technical financial planning knowledge.
The CII wants to hear from the industry on the potential timescales for chartered firms to implement or transition to these criteria.
Submissions should be made by 31 January 2014 and emailed to [email protected]
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