The Financial Planning Association’s new Value of Advice Awards are a stepping stone in the board’s strategy of promoting financial planning as a profession and will be swiftly followed by phase two of a three-year advertising campaign.

New chief executive of the FPA, Jo-Anne Bloch, who has been in the job since June 13, said the board had a sound two-pronged strategy in place of member representation and member services as well as promoting financial planning as a profession. Key to the second strategy being achieved was connecting more with consumers, the planners’ clients, and ultimate beneficiaries of the FPA’s work. “Members are our number one priority,” she said. “But we definitely have to connect in with consumers and consumer associations, everything we do has to be with our members, and our members’ clients, in mind.” The awards were one strand of a big campaign around the value of advice, a concept that had to be understood if financial planning was to progress as a profession. “The board has picked up that consumers are not clear about the cost, and so the value, of financial advice,” Bloch said. She said the FPA stood for a choice in the way people can pay for advice so long as disclosure and transparency were at the core. “There needs to be debate, and noise, about the way people charge but the next step is connecting it into the value of the advice being given,” she said. “There has been plenty of regulation regarding transparency but that hasn’t been connected into the value of advice which is translating it into a direct benefit to consumers.” The FPA has also issued members with a guidance note, or practical guide to implementation aspects, on dealing with conflicts of interest. Bloch said she had no immediate plans to tinker with the association’s structure, and said the board had put in place sound strategies and principles.

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