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Standing tall together – Marlene Outrim, Managing Director of Uniq Family Wealth, and member of the former CISI accredited firms’ committee

“There was a mixed response from the membership as news about the merger emerged last year. Many were worried that we would lose the special camaraderie special to IFP, and the focus on Financial Planning,” comments Outrim.

So, we asked her, a year on, how has the merger fared generally and for CISI’s accredited firms in particular?

“As a member of the accredited firms’ committee, I was still involved following the merger,” she comments. “It was felt important to keep members of the accredited firms onside as they are amongst some of the most successful planners in the country. This summer’s accredited firms’ conference was crucial in that we knew we had to make an impact. It was a great success and did much to allay many people’s fears within the firms themselves, but sadly the committee has now been disbanded. CISI claims that this part of what was the IFP is important, but we have yet to see how they will deal with it going forward.

Teething problems

“Communication, lack of it, or poorly considered, seems to have been an underlying theme. Initially, members weren’t properly notified about branch meetings, so speakers would arrive to find CISI members, but no ex-IFP ones. Some of the processes, such as accounts, have a £25 per item, late penalty charge which seems somewhat draconian. CPD accounts were being audited, when the transfer from IFP to CISI had not been accurately completed. I could go on, but were these merely just teething problems that you would have in the initial stages of any merger and could of course, have been exacerbated by inadequate records inherited from IFP.

Reaching out

“I believe that CISI have the willingness to make the on-boarding of Financial Planning succeed, but not always the knowledge and expertise to make it happen. Appointing Campbell Edgar & Jackie Lockie as heads of Financial Planning was a great move, but they could make the mistake of assuming that these two people, along with the Professional Forum, are all that is needed to keep up the momentum and make Financial Planning the golden goose.

“The IFP had its own Board and Executive, but it relied on a number of volunteers who gave their time willingly for the sake of its success. CISI should realise that it still needs these people and not fall back on its own employees to fill the gaps. It is still early days of course, but I wouldn’t want to see any progress, distilled. In fact, I would like to see the whole concept expand and grow. IFP made a big difference to my life, but it also in turn, made many positive changes for our clients. That’s why it is still worth striving for.”

This article is part of a 5 part series. Click here to view the other parts.

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