A new set of competency standards for financial planning was structured and launched recently by the Institute of Banking and Finance Singapore (IBF), the national accreditation and certification agency for financial sector competencies, in close partnership with key industry associations in the financial advisory industry.
A project close to two years in the making, this new set of competency standards, named the IBF Standards for Financial Planning, provides a structured professional development roadmap and certification pathway for financial advisers (FAs).
It is also mapped against existing professional qualifications offered such as the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) offered by the Financial Planning Association of Singapore (FPAS) and the Chartered Financial Consultant/Singapore (ChFC/S) offered by the Singapore College of Insurance (SCI).
Setting a new standard for professional excellence
The IBF Standards for Financial Planning represents the first time that the industry has come together to agree on a common set of competency standards.
Led by the President of Life Insurance Association (LIA), Dr Khoo Kah Siang, the IBF Financial Planning Working Group comprises senior representatives from FPAS, Insurance and Financial Practitioners Association of Singapore (IFPAS) and the Association of Financial Advisers Singapore (AFA(S)), amongst others.
The Working Group undertook a review of the current competencies and training pathways available for FAs working in banks and insurance companies, as well as independent financial advisers, resulting in a comprehensive competency roadmap.
Dr Khoo said: “It is very important for advisers to be trained and equipped well with the right skillset to provide a high level of advisory services to their customers. This will help build trust and ensure that customers’ financial goals are planned and executed well. Hence, it is timely for IBF to introduce common competency standards for the financial advisory profession. We hope that this will help to drive the standards of the industry to higher levels, as more training programmes adopt these standards and the certifications.”
The standards cover core skills in constructing holistic financial plans and developing deep technical skills relating to cash management, plus insurance, investment and retirement planning.
Robust industry support
The partnerships IBF currently have with existing bodies within the industry also resulted in IBF conferring the IBF-accreditation status on the widely-recognised CFP and ChFC/S qualifications. Practitioners who successfully obtain these professional designations from 2016 onwards will be eligible to apply for the IBF Advanced certification.
Various insurance companies and financial advisory firms have welcomed the introduction of the new competency standards and have committed to adopting the IBF Standards as part of their training roadmap for their own FAs. These include AIA Singapore, AXA Life Insurance, Great Eastern Financial Advisors, Great Eastern Life, IPP Financial Advisors, NTUC Income and Prudential Singapore.