Speaking to International Adviser, Ian Simons, marketing director at CII, said that greater transparency in the UK makes it easier to verify the application criteria of local firms.
“In the UK it is relatively easy because the Financial Conduct Authority and Companies House are able verify who is on the board of a company, their level of authorisation as a director, and so on.”
In more opaque jurisdictions or where there is difficulty accessing company information the verification process can take longer.
“Is the firm operating in a regulated environment? If so, how transparent and accessible are the independent verification criteria? That’s not to say that it can’t be done outside the UK but it requires CII to do more digging, as some of our criteria has to be supported by regulatory and authorising bodies,” Simons said.
Corporate status can be granted to all or part of a group and it is essential that companies differentiate between parts of the business that are chartered and those that are not.
“There are a number of groups and organisations where we’ve had to make it very clear that the corporate status refers specifically to one division or a company within a group, and not the whole group,” Simons says.
Financial advice firm AES International was granted corporate status in the UK in July 2016, which includes its new branch office in the Dubai International Financial Centre. However, AES Middle East Insurance Broker does not hold corporate status.
Another example is Killik Chartered Financial Planners, which has corporate status while its parent company Killik & Co does not. The group’s office in Dubai, which closes at the end of September, also does not have corporate status.
Following a consultation, CII last year announced changes to the application criteria for corporate chartered financial planner status.
For renewals or applications received on or after July 2017 at least 25% of a firm’s advisers must hold individual chartered status. This will rise to 50% by January 2020.
As retaining corporate status requires firms to pay an annual fee to cover the cost of administering, monitoring and enforcing the chartered scheme, all existing and new firms will need to meet the criteria.
“It’s a steep challenge for some firms but it is one that we’ve consulted on heavily,” said Simons.
“A number of core areas will remain consistent, such as having a set of behaviours and corporate values in place that subscribe to the CII’s code of ethics, having a professional development plan in place for all staff, offering a full planning service and access to a chartered financial planner.”