The time is now

The CEO of the Financial Planning Institute shares FPI's latest news.

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Lelané Bezuidenhout CFP® CEO, Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa

There is so much going on in the world right now and I cannot help but feel thankful for the opportunities we have. I woke up this morning, peacefully, in a slightly chilly Gauteng; I didn’t wake up in the middle of a war… Yes, it is nearly two months since Russia invaded Ukraine. And then, just as South Africa announced the end of our National State of Disaster, China and other parts of the world started moving back into some form of lockdown.

The full effects of the Covid pandemic and the Russian invasion are still to be realised but we can clearly see the impact on GDP, inflation and the unemployment rate, to name but a few indicators.

Out and about again

I recently visited partners based in Cape Town, together with David Kop, FPI Head of Policy and Engagement. It was clear that many people are “returning to normal”, dusting off their work clothes and laptop bags for in-person meetings at the office – and for standing in queues for coffee.

Large corporates are only returning now but most of the smaller financial planning and advice practices have been back for a while already. Certain businesses are operating the same way they did before Covid; others have embraced a hybrid model where staff are working from the office some days and other days from home.

Educational providers are also starting to fill lecture halls again for the first time in two years. It was great to walk the corridors of the universities and greet students as they moved between classes – some running, most talking up a storm. That is the way it should be! In-person graduation ceremonies are back, too. You cannot beat the feeling of receiving your qualification on stage with your family cheering from the front row. Well done to all the students graduating this year.

Topics discussed during our visit

As with any other business, it is important that FPI products and processes are reviewed from time to time to see if they still meet certain needs. With that in mind, the following products were discussed with our partners to see how we can improve on what we are currently doing:

  • FPI approved professional practices
  • FPI corporate partners
  • FPI recognised education providers
  • FPI professional designations
  • FPI CPD events and programmes
  • FPI regional committees

We received excellent feedback from our trusted partners and we are working to implement some of the suggestions that came through via our interactive, robust engagement sessions.

At the FPI office

We returned to our office late last year in a hybrid fashion. It has proven to be successful so far, and we will continue to work this way. We are a relatively small team and it suits us well.

We kicked off 2022 with the Annual Refresher at the end of January and beginning of February with a super line-up of speakers. If you missed it, watch the recordings at www.fpi.co.za. Click “Events” on the top menu bar.

We also had a successful Estate Planning Workshop on 6 April. Again, if you missed it and want to claim CPD hours in the new cycle, register via the FPI website. Remember that CPD compliance is due at the end of May. If you still need to catch up, you can access 35 complimentary CPD hours via the FPI Portal. From a certification point of view, we ran our first professional competency examination (PCE) in March, with results coming out towards the end of April. The next PCE is in June 2022.

From an advocacy point of view, we are still waiting for the promulgation of the COFI Act, which is currently with NEDLAC. Once COFI comes into effect, there will be new FSCA conduct standards to consider. Similarly, FPI submitted public comments to National Treasury’s proposed retirement reform proposals and to SAQA’s update to the policy that governs professional bodies.

On the international front

The Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB) is focusing on updating the financial planner competency profile, curriculum and practice standards. FPI was one of the 16 affiliates that participated in a global job analysis survey in 2021. The survey confirmed that financial planning practice in the future will be more innovative, more human and more in-demand. In case you missed the press release on the findings of the survey, visit the FPSB newsroom at fpsb.org.

I am pleased that FPI contributed to the overall growth of CFP® professionals globally. For the first time as a global community of planners, we surpassed the 200K mark! FPI’s CFP® professionals increased by 2.5% during 2021 – well done to all FPSB affiliates that contributed to the tenfold increase in the number of CFP® professionals since 1990. For more information about international CFP® growth, visit fpsb.org. The growth in the numbers globally is a clear indication that clients need financial planning done right, especially in these troubled times. The profession has stood strong for half a century and has continued to grow in the face of circumstances nobody could have predicted.

Give back to the community

FPI has a great pro bono consumer education programme. If you want to give back to the community by helping consumers understand basic financial management matters, please email mymoney123@fpi.co.za or visit letsplan.co.za. 

I could go on for another 100 pages, but I know the editor will stop me at some point! (Word count reached, Lelané! – Ed.) Thank you to everyone for your dedication to the profession and for making us who we are. As I mentioned earlier, we have so much to be thankful for. Let’s continue to celebrate life every day.

Until next time,

Lelané Bezuidenhout CFP®
CEO, Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa