Financial planning profession aims to accelerate transformation

11 May 2018: Johannesburg – Transformation is a word that often sparks lively discussions in South Africa.

Since the advent of democracy in 1994, many organisations have been grappling with implementing transformation policies to diversify their workplaces to reflect our country’s population demographics.

The impact of these policies on our economy has been somewhat mixed with some organisations successfully transforming their workplaces and boardrooms while others have come up short.

But transformation has evolved since its early days in the mid-1990s, where there was disproportionate emphasis on bringing the previously disadvantaged individuals (PDIs) into the mainstream economy through selling equity stakes in established, white-owned companies to PDIs.

Since this early foray into transformation or black economic empowerment (BEE), the policy has progressed beyond just selling equity stakes to previously disadvantaged investors. It has added more strings to its bow and now encompasses a whole range of elements that include skills development, socio-economic development, management control, and enterprise and supplier development (ESD). 

Many experts agree that transformation in its current form is designed to deepen and accelerate economic participation by the PDIs.

Other industries like the financial services and mobile telecoms sectors have taken transformation even further by finding innovative ways of delivering their services and products to the working poor and low-income earners at affordable prices. Transformation policies have dramatically improved access by the majority of South Africans to products and services that were previously consumed by high income-earners, allowing this category of consumers to be part of a modern economy.

Taking into account all the lessons that have been learnt over the past 24 years on how best to accelerate transformation, the Financial Planning Institute has developed the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Strategic Plan which is aimed at fast-tracking transformation in the profession.

There is currently a big push, under the leadership of FPI, to “Diversify” the racial and gender composition of the financial planning profession by bringing in new players and PDIs into the fold, as well as ensuring “Inclusion” – companies and practices develop and operationalise philosophies, policies, practices and procedures that ensure equitable access to opportunities and resources to support all individuals working in symphony in contributing to an organisation’s success. Presently, the average profile of an FPI member is a middle-aged, white male with blacks making up 16% of the membership and females 38%. The aim of the D&I strategy is to aggressively recruit PDIs to join the profession, thereby helping to boost the number of black and female professional financial planners.

The strategy will go beyond just transforming the racial and gender make-up of the financial planning profession, it will also seek to broaden access to professional financial planning and advisory services by ordinary South Africans.

This could be achieved through offering financial planning advice to workers as an employee benefit alongside other perks like medical aids, car allowances and pension/provident funds. Not only will such a move help companies retain key employees, it will also contribute to improving the financial health of their workforces.

No strategy works without an institution or a dedicated promoter that drives it from the top. Mindful of this, the Institute is setting up a D&I Advisory Committee made up of financial services industry stakeholders who will oversee the implementation of the D&I strategy and drive diversity and inclusion in the financial planning profession.

The committee will also identify opportunities to incorporate the D&I initiatives into FPI’s learning programmes and support efforts to establish an FPI Education and Training Fund, which will finance the training of aspiring financial planners.

The fund will play a critical role in developing a solid pipeline of black and female professional financial planners who could potentially pursue and attain the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER®/CFP® designation, the most sought-after certification in the financial planning profession. 

South African financial planners who hold the CFP® designation are hugely respected industry professionals and measure up to the best financial planners anywhere in the world. CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professionals are qualified practitioners that help individuals and corporations fulfil their long-term financial goals by analysing the clients’ current financial health and then drafting a comprehensive financial plan to assist the client to meet those goals. These professionals specialise in cash flow management, estate planning, tax planning, investment planning, asset allocation, risk management, and retirement planning. 

As a professional body representing the interests of the financial planning profession, FPI is working closely with its members and financial services providers (practices and corporates) and other stakeholders to encourage companies to reach high industry standards.

This means that the profession will have to set, promote and implement targets that endeavour to boost compliance across all elements of the broad-based BEE, from management control, enterprise and supplier development, socio-economic development, to skills development, and equity ownership.

We are proud to confirm that the profession has already covered some ground in pushing for transformation, but there is still plenty of work that needs to be done to broaden economic participation and eliminate inequality in our country.

We will leave no stone unturned nor rest until we achieve meaningful transformation in our profession.

Godfrey Nti is the chief executive officer of the Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa.

Media contacts:

The Financial Planning Institute (FPI)
Tsholofelo Dihutso CPRP
Communications and PR Manager 
T:(011) 470-6000
E: media@fpi.co.za  

About the Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa
The Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa (FPI), a South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) recognised professional body for financial planners, which serves the public by ensuring that people who carry the CFP® designation are qualified, experienced and professional. FPI has recently been approved by the South Africa Revenue Services (SARS) as a Recognised Controlling Body (RCB).

The Institute is also recognised internationally and is a founding, and a current affiliate member, of the international Financial Planning Standards Board Ltd (FPSB) based in the USA, along with 25 other affiliate member countries who offer CFP® certification, the highest recognised professional designation worldwide for a financial planning professional. 

In 2012, FPI was highly commended by FPSB and awarded Tier 1 Affiliate Status for receiving 96% in the global assessment. This is the highest achievement any affiliate has ever received. For more, visit www.fpi.co.za or follow @FPISANews.