AIOFP to launch CFP alternative

Peter Johnston

The Association of Independently-Owned Financial Planners (AIOFP) is to launch a premier adviser designation as an alternative to the Financial Planning Association’s Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation.

The name of the trademark designation, which will be offered in conjunction with a major Australian university, will be announced at the AIOFP’s annual conference on the Gold Coast in October.

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It will match the FPA designation requirements in all respects except that it will be open only to independently-owned advisers who offer genuine fee-for-service advice, according to AIOFP executive director Peter Johnston.

One further point of differentiation is that the AIOFP designation will require recipients to undergo an Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) course on trading direct equities, Johnston said.

“Our designation will be no different to the CFP in so far as applicants will need a Diploma of Financial Planning, have three years industry experience as an adviser and pay a fee.”

The catalyst for the designation was research released by Adelaide University earlier this year that found “conclusively that the public wants independently-owned advisers to give them genuine fee-for-service advice”, Johnston said.

He added that the AIOFP board has been “under pressure over the past two years to establish our own designation that provides a relevant point of difference in the marketplace for both consumers and advisers”.

“We’ve been approached by a number of people inside and outside of our organisation who believe that the current CFP designation is too shallow and not specific or relevant enough for consumers.

“They want greater assurances that the advice they are receiving is well researched and includes a total assessment of all available investment options, including direct ASX products.”

The AIOFP board also believes “too many advisers are one dimensional in not offering direct ASX products to clients either directly or on platforms”, according to Johnston.

“Our members are increasingly telling us that their clients want their advisers to have full knowledge of both sides of the investing equation — funds management and direct.

“They say they’re getting increasing demands for direct shares from clients, who say funds management, especially in the current environment, is not delivering,” he said.

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