Update to FPI’s RFP™ SAQA Registered designation

On 26 April 2019, the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) Board the title change of the FPI’s RFP™ professional designation from Registered Financial Planner to Registered Financial Practitioner. 

The approval came after the Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa NPC (FPI) made an official request to SAQA during February 2019 to update the SAQA approved designation from planner to practitioner.  

BACKGROUND:

Why FPI is no longer phasing out the RFP™ designation

 

In 2012 The strategic focus of FPI was to focus on the CFP® designation as the gold standard for financial planning, with the AFP™ and RFP™ designations as pathway designations to CFP® certification.  

In 2018 the strategic focus of FPI shifted to ensure that professionals can operate in financial advice and/or financial planning. The phasing out of the RFP™ designation would have left a large gap for financial advisers on an NQF 5 level who wanted to hold a professional designation. As a result, FPI took the decision not to phase out the RFP™ designation any longer.

The AFP™ designation is though replaced with the FINANCIAL SERVICES ADVISOR™ (FSA™) designation.  The FSA™ professional designation is now also a SAQA Registered professional designation in terms of the NQF act. 

Why the change from “planner” to “practitioner”?

During October 2014 the then Financial Services Board (FSB), today the Financial Sector Conduct Regulator (FSCA) distributed the South African Retail Distribution Review (RDR) document.  RDR states that an adviser that also qualifies as a financial planner may also use the additional designation of financial planner.

In order to make it clear that the level of qualification needed by a financial planner is on an NQF 8 level, we had to change the RFP™ designation from Registered Financial Planner to Registered Financial Practitioner as the underlying qualification needed by an RFP™ professional is on an NQF 5 level.

The title change is therefore aimed at protecting the terms “financial planning” and “financial planner” and for making it clear that the financial planner referred to in RDR is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® with an underlying qualification at NQF Level 8 or higher. 

Editors’ notes (not for publication, but background for the editor)

About FPI and the RFP professional designation

The Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa (FPI) is a professional body, recognised by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), that recognises that in protecting the public from potential harm, it must have professional designations, such as the RFP™, FSA™ and CFP® designation, that is linked to high professional standards.  We take our responsibility towards the public very seriously in that we must ensure that we deliver professionals that meet the professional standards.

More detail with regards to the RDR proposals:

Proposal T: Criteria for financial planners (p40)
The regulatory framework will set conduct standards for the provision of financial planning services, including:

Fit and proper standards for the provision of financial planning services. These will include competency standards in relation to the financial planning process, as well as in relation to the types of financial planning solutions recommended through the planning process. Such standards may be set with reference to membership of or qualifications provided by appropriate professional associations, or may vary depending on such membership or qualification, which may be recognised for these purposes.
Standards on the level and extent of financial product knowledge required to provide financial planning services. Although financial planning does not necessarily entail the provision of advice relating to any particular financial product, adequate knowledge of the classes or types of financial product that are likely to underpin a proposed solution would nevertheless be important.
Standards for financial planners that are also multi-tied or tied advisers – particularly with a view to ensuring that the restrictions in relation to product advice they may provide do not conflict with or compromise the quality of the financial planning service.

Proposal U: Status disclosures to be made by financial planners (p40)

Conduct standards will be set requiring a financial planner to disclose the following matters to customers at appropriate times:
That the adviser is a financial planner and an explanation (which may be standardised) of what this means, as well as details of whether or not the financial planner is a member of or holds a qualification issued by a relevant professional organisation.
Appropriate details of the scope and purpose of the financial plan, including any limitations in this regard.

The above standards may be determined with reference to corresponding standards set by appropriate professional associations. 

Crux of the matter

 

The intention of the above is to protect the term “financial planning” and “financial planner”.  The term referred to in RDR for financial planner, refers to the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® where the underlying qualification is set on an NQF 8 level.  The underlying qualification for the RFP™ designation is set on an NQF 5 level.
Certification Standards for the RFP™ professional designation

 

Education Candidates must obtain a relevant qualification at an NQF 5 level.
Experience Candidates must obtain one (1) year of relevant experience.
Examination Candidates must write and pass the FPI RFP™
Professional Competency Examination (PCE) if candidates did not obtain their
NQF 5 qualification at one of the FPI’s Recognised Educational Providers
Ethics Board appointed panel interviews
12 June 2019 Candidates must agree to adhere to the FPI Code of Ethics and Practice Standards. 

References:

1) SAQA Board Statement of Deliberations 1 of 2019
2) Learning pathways followed by Financial Planners and Financial Advisors
3) Why RFP and AFP designations lost value
4) FPI’s learning pathway
5) Retail Distribution Review document 
6) FPI Certification Standards and Membership Regulations