The importance of being chartered

24th October 2019

It’s hard to believe, but this September marked the ninth year that Fortitude has held Chartered Financial Planner Status. We’ve now been the proud holders of what’s often called the ‘gold standard’ of our profession for almost a decade – more than half the time we’ve existed as a business.

It’s something we’re incredibly proud of, but it’s not always clear to clients what it means in practice. Chartered Status is valuable for many reasons, not just to us but to you too, so as we notch up another year, it’s a good time to give you a reminder of what it’s all about and what it means for you.

Parity of esteem 

Chartered Status is granted by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), the professional body for personal finance. It was established to achieve ‘parity of esteem’ with professions like accountancy, law and surveying. In short, it’s there to act as a universally acknowledged symbol of quality, conferring stature within the profession and offering you peace of mind. It’s a guarantee that the planners you’ve chosen to work with – our planners – will be trustworthy, highly skilled and absolutely dedicated to meeting your needs.

Chartered Status is awarded to individuals and companies too. Where it’s awarded to a firm, more than 50% of that firm’s planners will need to hold individual Chartered Status. They need to renew their status each year, with each planner dedicating time to working towards that. The business as a whole must also prove each year that it deserves to retain its status – it’s not something we can achieve, then decide to freewheel thereafter. It’s a continuing commitment to reaching the top and staying there.

What it means for you

We’re already committed to continuous development – in fact, along with understanding what our clients need from their wealth, it’s the central tenet of what we do. We often say our role is ‘5% technical, 95% people’. Of course, what we do involves immersing ourselves in the procedures and practicalities of financial services every day – if you like, we need to know 100% of that 5% part! But the job is really about understanding your goals, your relationship with money and your aspirations for the future. Chartered Status confirms that we excel in the whole package of being your financial planners.

Sharing your vision is really important, but financial planning is a long-term undertaking and helping you in the years and decades ahead means we must never stand still. Achieving Chartered Status is no mean feat, it takes time and dedication, with study, exams, and lots of close scrutiny. But doing it again every year means there’s no resting on our laurels.

If you don’t already work with us, Chartered Status makes the above very clear. It’s a professional and prestigious stamp of authority that gives you peace of mind over the kind of professionals you’re considering working with. Even if you’re an existing client, it’s an important, powerful reminder that we’re always looking at how we can make things even better. 

What it means for us

Everyone wants to work for a business that does things the right way and at Fortitude we already have our own clear set of values, along with our commitment to innovation and continuous improvement. But knowing our commitment is recognised at the highest level is something to be proud of, and it drives us to keep raising the bar in every aspect of what we offer.

That’s why, along with Chris and Neil who already hold Chartered Status, Niamh, Sam and Richard are well on their way to attaining it too. Just because the CII puts a figure on the minimum number of planners who need to hold the distinction doesn’t mean we’ll stop there.

And why is it called ‘Chartered’?

The ‘Chartered’ part means the public declaration we make to work to the highest professional standards. Chartered titles may still only be awarded by institutions that have been incorporated under Royal Charter, with the permission of the Privy Council. Along with the practical and aspirational checkpoints we must meet to renew our status each year, there’s a strict Code of Ethics that we must promise to abide by, to show we represent the right values. It’s a lengthy document, but it centres on five core principles:

  • To comply with regulations
  • To keep the highest ethical standards
  • To act in your best interests
  • To provide a high standard of service
  • To treat you fairly

But aren’t those all commitments we make already? Yes, of course, they’re exactly what you’d expect from us. But we don’t see the Code as a requirement so much as a reaffirmation of our own values. Signing up to the Code is also about continual development, which again dovetails with our own ethos. For us, Chartered Status isn’t what people in business circles call a ‘nice-to-have’ (although it’s nice to have it) – it’s something that instinctively feels like home to us.

This year we’re already busy making sure that, as 2020 rolls into view, we make it a decade as Chartered Financial Planners. For us, it absolutely reaffirms our established purpose. For you, it’s a lasting commitment that we’ll always provide sound advice that’s honest, ethical and tailored to your needs.