• Jean Archary

CPD - An opportunity for financial advisers to be on top of their game

Ever since Continuous Professional Development (CPD) became part of the Financial Sector Conduct Authority’s (FSCA) Fit and Proper Requirements (as required in Board Notice 194 of 2017, with effect from 1 April 2018), CPD compliance has become an inescapable reality for all financial services providers (FSP), key individuals and representatives such as brokers and financial intermediaries. However, following the FSCA’s decision to extend the deadline for meeting CPD requirements from 31 May to 31 July, there were many who questioned whether the entire CPD process was a toothless system.

However, with forethought, introspection and planning, CPD compliance is not only attainable but also represents a powerful tool to achieve personal and professional transformation. This is according to Jean Archary, Head of Business Management Solutions at Old Mutual Wealth. She believes that financial advisers should embrace the CPD process as an opportunity to fill the gaps in their professional practice holistically. “Advisers must consider what areas of professional experience they want to grow in and where the gaps in their professional practice are. If they are advising on a specific class of business, they also need to make sure that their CPD is relevant to that class of business to deliver the best possible value and client experience. Keeping up to date with legislative changes falls into this ambit, and not doing this, could have disastrous consequences for both you and your client.”

By ensuring that whatever CPD activity you are doing is aligned to the skills and value you are offering to your client, you will be adding to your value proposition. Archary states that this will reassure clients that financial advisers are regulated by a professional body to ensure they are equipped to provide the highest level of service and knowledge. “Previously, CPD compliance was only a requirement for financial advisers who were members of the Financial Planning Institute (FPI). Now, all financial advisers are required to comply. There has also been some confusion among FPI members as to whether the CPD process they have been following is sufficient or whether additional compliance is now required,” explains Archary.

Archary and her team compared the FSCA and FPI CPD policies and found that FPI members need not necessarily duplicate or earn additional points, she notes. “Rather, advisers should be very clear about what type of CPD points are relevant to them. For example, the FSCA only accepts verifiable points that are approved by an industry body. Additionally, the FSCA requires proof in terms of a certificate or assessment. The FPI has different formats of learning, so financial advisers need to understand what exactly is required, identify the differences between both policies and leverage off both to optimise the time and effort they put in.”

The ultimate objective of CPD is professionalising the industry. She states that in addition, financial services providers have a fiduciary responsibility to assist their representatives in becoming CPD compliant. “Organisations and individuals must have proper procedures in place to address CPD for the year and highlight areas where there are potential shortages.”

“As a contribution towards professionalisation, Old Mutual Wealth has created learning events whereby all advisers (tied or independent) can log onto an online platform where they can access activities that will earn them additional CPD points including courses, workshops, articles and tools to upskill themselves generally or in specific areas including business management, financial planning, succession planning and more. Our business tools allows financial advisers to analyse where the gaps are and take steps to close them. Legislative and regulatory requirements such as POPI, RDR and TCF are also covered in the modules,” concludes Archary.

Financial advisers are encouraged to access learning material and CPD related activities at www.knowmore.co.za