More than 300 member firms have already registered their interest in Aspire, our new financial adviser development programme, and I am pleased to say that we have 88 aspiring financial advisers prepared to commence the programme over the next few weeks.
The response and interest in just five weeks demonstrates both the need and demand for new talent and succession planning. Together with our accredited training partner, FWD Training & Consultancy, we are in discussions with hundreds more interested firms, and are planning to deliver the programme to additional groups later in the year. We have been delighted with the response and the commitment to developing the next generation of personal finance professionals.
The Spring Budget delivered very little for the financial advice profession. As expected, the Government pressed ahead with its reduction to the Money Purchase Annual Allowance, while the 25% tax charge on Qrops transfers will put further pressure on this market.
Media and sector discussion has focussed on the measures targeting the self-employed, and it wasn't surprising to see the Government quickly backtrack from controversial plans to hike National Insurance contributions.
Earlier this month I travelled to Hong Kong and Singapore to engage with, and seek feedback from, some of the Personal Finance Society (PFS) and Chartered Insurance Institute's growing number of overseas members.
Part of my extended role within the CII includes developing the organisation's international proposition.
The CII has more than 13,000 members located overseas, while the PFS has close to 700 international members located across the globe. We expect these numbers to grow in the coming years as labour mobility escalates and the international drive for higher professional standards continues.
We already have strong links with Asia, with two regional offices in Hong Kong and India in place to support our growing membership base across the region.
It was a pleasure meeting with local officials, regulatory and other bodies, as well as more than 80 financial advisers across Hong Kong and Singapore, who mostly serve the expat community across Asia.
They were extremely engaged with developments in the UK financial advice sector, and while Brexit was a hot topic of conversation, there was also significant interest in FAMR and the UK regulatory environment, as well as PFS initiatives such as our ScamSmart and apprentice development programmes.
During my visit it was clear that there is demand from members to extend the PFS proposition of guidance and CPD, as many countries continue to go through their own versions of RDR. We are committed to evolving our membership proposition to meet the needs of a growing and more geographically dispersed membership base.
Isle of Man
Last week I travelled to Isle of Man to meet with the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority and to speak with local media about our series of campaigns aimed at eliminating the work of scammers and fraudsters.
Manx Radio interview: Island IFAs join anti-scam initiative:
The most recent scam to hit the Isle of Man surfaced earlier this month, when local residents reported that fraudsters, purporting to be from HMRC, were telephoning residents and 'phishing' for personal and/or financial details. According to the Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading, the fraudsters were very convincing and used various scare tactics - for example, they claimed they would take victims to court if they didn't settle an outstanding bill.
Earlier this month the FCA revealed the results of a YouGov poll of over-55s, which revealed that one in five were unaware that being promised returns above the market rate could be a sign of investment fraud. Only two in five thought they knew how to spot a fraudulent investment opportunity.
Scammers continue to find new and innovative ways to dupe the unsuspecting consumer, and so we are working more innovatively with regulators and the broader sector to eliminate their impact.
About the Blog
In this blog Personal Finance Society CEO Keith Richards will be keeping you up-to-date with all the Personal Finance Society news, projects and initiatives that we have in the works.