Life begins at 40

The FPI celebrates 40 years of financial planning excellence this year!


The Financial Planning Institute was founded as a non-profit organisation called the Institute of Life and Pension Advisors (ILPA) in 1981. Despite the name change, it has always had one primary aim: ensuring high professional standards in the vital field of financial advice.

In the 1980s, the life insurance industry in South Africa suffered from a poor public image and a lack of trust in its frontline personnel. While there was a general recognition in the industry that something had to be done, it took a few individuals with the necessary passion and commitment to bring ILPA into being. They had a vision of creating a professional body along the same lines as those of which already existed for accountants, actuaries, lawyers and doctors.

A global trend

Although it was formed as an independent South African initiative, the ILPA was not conceived in isolation. On the contrary, its birth was part of a worldwide trend towards professionalising the financial advice sector. The increasing complexity of financial support and investment mechanisms and the scandalous behaviour of a small minority of ruthless rogues who robbed people of their life savings had made professionalisation a priority.

This global movement was born in America, but it wasn’t long before other professional financial planning bodies sprung up across the globe. The early pioneers of the profession in South Africa looked to the US, the UK and Australia for inspiration. Through travel and research, they were able to establish a professional standards body to rival the best in the world.

One of the results of this research was the introduction of the Certified Financial Planner® mark to South Africa. The “three most important letters in financial planning” are reserved for financial planning professionals who have attained an internationally benchmarked standard of knowledge that is backed up with sufficient practical experience and high ethical standards. The introduction of the CFP® designation played a major role in professionalising the industry in South Africa.

The FPI was a founding member of the international Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB), which is today the custodian of the CFP® designation. The FPSB is dedicated to managing, developing and operating certification, education and related programmes for financial planning organisations around the world, including the FPI.

The introduction of the CFP® designation played a major role in professionalising the industry in South Africa.

Local is lekker

While the ILPA was born out of a desire to bring international standards to South Africa, the industry in this country has more than held its own when it comes to innovation. The FPI has made its several invaluable contributions to financial products and professional standards, not least the development of two local trademark levels of membership: Associate Financial Planner™ (AFP™) and Registered Financial Planner™ (RFP™).

These two designations serve as vital stepping stones for aspiring advisors, while also reassuring the public that these advisors meet a guaranteed standard of professionalism, expertise and ethics.

The FPI is uncompromising in establishing and maintaining professional financial planning standards in Southern Africa. It plays a major role in ensuring that the public has access to competent financial planners who are professionally qualified, are experienced and have agreed to abide by its code of conduct, ethics and practice standards.

The FPI is uncompromising in establishing and maintaining professional financial planning standards in Southern Africa.

Many top financial institutions have adopted the FPI as an independent standards partner and its members include both general practitioners and specialists in particular branches of financial planning. The FPI is recognised as both a SAQA Professional Body and a recognised controlling body of SARS. Since its origins, the FPI has widened its scope by turning its attention towards creating a profession that includes people representative of our diverse South African nation.

The FPI continues to focus on robust consumer education around financial matters and the benefits of dealing with an FPI professional member.

The Institute also places major importance on ensuring that its competency standards remain relevant to the ever-changing regulatory environment and keeps up with the latest trends in technology and behavioural science.

Onwards and upwards

The global pandemic has shown that Southern African financial planners are a young, agile and hungry group of professionals who are all for embracing change and the advances of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Here’s to the next 40 years!

This article is an excerpt of Mike Aldridge’s fascinating book, The History of the FPI.