Richard achieves top global financial planning standard

21st August 2019

Whenever we work with a professional, whatever they’re doing, we assume they have the qualifications to do it. But we don’t often consider what those qualifications entail – the hard work involved and what it means to achieve an industry standard. It has profound implications for the professional’s own future and for the people whose lives they go on to be a part of.

Our own Richard Peters was recently awarded Certified Financial PlannerTM status, by the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI). He’d be the last person to draw attention to his own achievement, but continuous improvement – what the Japanese call ‘Kaizen’ – is a foundation of Fortitude. So in the time-honoured tradition of celebrating our colleagues’ achievements, whether they like it or not, here’s what that means for Richard and his clients.

What’s Certified Financial PlannerTM status?

It’s an advanced global financial qualification designed to test a candidate’s professional knowledge and, crucially, their ability to apply it. The first part of the process is designed to assess core knowledge within financial planning products and financial planning skills required to complete a financial plan. But it also means a two-and-a-half-hour exam and at least 180 hours of studying.

The second part involves a case study – a hypothetical client profile that the candidate must understand down to the last detail. Richard needed to understand the client’s objectives and build their financial plan to help them achieve their goals.

It took three years to accomplish, including the rigorous marking process using the Financial Planning Standards Board’s assessment criteria. Like studying for a PhD, the submission goes back and forth with feedback, while the candidate keeps raising their game until the examiners are ready to sign off.

It sounds like hard work

It is, but financial planning, if you’re serious about it, is much more than a profession. We’re dealing with people’s lives and goals and we’re bound up with their achievements. In a previous role Richard found himself on the sharp end of a business model designed to sell products – it made him uncomfortable, unfulfilled and keen to achieve more.

He wanted to carve out a role that was about adding value rather than chasing money. That’s how he learned the difference between lifestyle financial planning and traditional financial advice, and it’s when he discovered Fortitude (and the fact that we wholeheartedly share his values). We expect dedication and hard work from everyone at Fortitude, but we know there’s always the opportunity to improve – and that applies to everyone in the organisation.

What it all means

There are fewer than 1,000 Certified Financial Planner professionals in the country and Richard is one of them. It brings lots of benefits, not least the relief that it’s done. It’s been a long, sometimes hard road, but it means he’s at the highest level of financial planning and that his clients have complete peace of mind that he’s knowledgeable, dependable and completely professional.

But there’s another lesson – one of the things Richard takes away from the experience is the value of mentorship. He reflects that he was fortunate to have a really good mentor who was there to point out dangers and steer him in the right direction. But they also gave credit where it was due, celebrated progress and reminded him of his own dedication and determination. What his mentor did was help him to keep going when the struggle was hardest.

That’s what we’re here to do for our clients. Yes, we’ll tell you when we think you’re off course, we wouldn’t be professionals if we didn’t. But we’re also here to impart knowledge and celebrate your achievements with you. Equally, we learn from you, we take pride in what we do well, but we’re always ready to understand what we could do better – Kaizen runs both ways.

And that lesson about not giving up – it’s just as relevant to your future. It’s not always easy to stick to the plan, even if you know it’s been carefully mapped out by professionals. We’ll help you to do that too.

What comes next?

In his three years with us, Richard has passed five exams, but he’s not stopping there. His next project is to achieve Chartered Status – a similarly select qualification, with an equally prestigious pedigree. He’s already started and aims to achieve it by the end of 2021.

It’s not all about work though, by way of celebration Richard and his family are currently enjoying a welcome trip to the US, starting in Seattle before taking the children to Disneyland, followed by travelling along the Californian coast to San Diego and finishing up in Hollywood with a trip to Universal Studios.

It’s another long, arduous road that he’ll somehow have to find a way to persevere with.