Since the Institute of Financial Planning (IFP) and Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) merged there have been grumblings from the financial planning community about the future of the profession.
The two professional bodies became one in November 2015 and this big shake-up came with the promise the CISI, with its global reach and deeper pockets, would bring positive changes including more effective promotion of financial planning.
Yet, 14 months later and there are still concerns about the direction the body has taken.
Members are dissatisfied with the way branch meetings are now compared with they were under the IFP.
In the London branch the word is that members are not clear if or when meetings are happening.
Ex-branch chair for London, Abraham Okusanya, said he was disappointed at how things had panned out, but wanted to be hopeful.
In London the branch chair role no longer exists but Okusanya said people are still regularly contacting him to find out what is going on with the meetings.
Elsewhere, on the south coast, branch chair Mike Godfrey, said all is well and the first meeting of the year is coming up for the end of January.
Hop to Surrey Martin Bamford will tell you his branch is not what it was.
‘Since merger the only way I get wind of meetings is through someone telling me it is on,' he said.
The culture has also changed.
‘It used to be more jeans and jumpers but it is more formal now,’ he said.
Bamford believes this communication is vital to build trust and the situation should be better by this point.
‘Or at least they could tell us their plan,’ said the IFA.
All the advisers I have spoken to about this over the last year value the education opportunities from branch meetings. Perhaps this alleged lack of communication is interpreted by the advisers as the professional body not putting as much value in them as the IFP did.
And that, as one adviser called the situation, is a shame.
Pete Matthew, director of Penzance-based Jackson Wealth Management admitted that though he was disappointed with the level of contact from CISI he has not been ‘massively active either.’
In the CISI’s defence it said it sends out bi-weekly branch emails that list the upcoming events. Or members can always have a look themselves at what’s planned by clicking here and looking for themselves.
In case you are not getting the emails, a spokeswoman said you can log in to MYCISI and make sure you have indicated you want to receive CISI communications.
She said they were happy to help with difficulties with this and in terms of the frequency of meetings that is determined by the branch itself.
The implication here is that it works both ways. You will need to tell the CISI if things are the way you think they should be. Get active.
But advice from advisers would be similar. They want CISI to engage with them and serve their professional needs at least to the level the IFP did, if not more so. Both sides seem willing to move forward with growing the financial planning profession but the momentum is stalled.
Advisers need to get on the email and the blower and tell their professional body what the issues are.
The CISI needs to heed these grumblings and revamp its communications, making sure advisers know their development is valued, before the situation moves from ‘shame’ to ‘sham’.