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Choose your financial planner as you would your doctor

When you require professional advice on a serious legal, medical or dental issue (to name but three professions), would you opt to get a less-qualified opinion or solution?

Generally, you would seek the best professional advice available to ensure your long-term well-being or wealth. So, who do you trust with your long-term financial well-being?

Let’s consider the profession of financial planning. In South Africa, professional financial planners are all members of the Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa (FPI), the premier professional body for the financial services sector in Southern Africa.

The CFP® or Certified Financial Planner designation is controlled by the FPI, an affiliate member of the international Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB), based in the US. The CFP® certification is the highest recognised professional designation for a financial planning professional worldwide.

South Africa is one of 26 member organisations of the international FPSB, with 4 700 South African members as at the end of 2016. This ranks us sixth in the world in terms of the number of CFP® professionals per member country. The FPSB’s global membership consists of 170 000 financial planning professionals. 

The following are requirements to attain professional financial planning status:

  • Qualifications: a postgraduate qualification e.g. a BCom Hons in Financial Planning or a Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning – both are National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Level 8 qualifications;
  • Exams: a stringent FPI ‘Board Examination’ (the professional competency examination), similar to admissions exams in other professions;
  • Ethics: members subscribe to the FPI Code of Ethics and Practice Standards (see below);
  • Experience: a minimum of three years of experience as a financial planner.

South African members subscribe to the following core ethical values:

  • Always putting the client first;
  • Acting with integrity;
  • Providing objective advice;
  • Treating all clients fairly;
  • Competence is seen as key to providing sound advice;
  • Confidentiality is always maintained in dealing with client affairs;
  • Acting with diligence in handling client matters; and
  • Professionalism in all conduct as a financial planner.


These criteria set members of the FPI apart from other financial advisors. This does not disqualify the rest of the financial advisor community from giving sound advice. But when you reach out to a Certified Financial Planner professional you are assured of dealing with a highly-skilled and qualified individual and a member of the FPI that sets a world-class standard to best serve the diverse financial planning needs of clients.

How does a South African Certified Financial Planner compare with those elsewhere in the world, say Europe or the US?

The FPI carries a ‘Tier 1’ affiliate status with the US-based international FPSB – the highest rating any affiliate member can receive. Therefore, our certification standard is truly world class.

Is the financial planning profession on par with the other established professions?

The FPI is a South African Qualifications Authority- (SAQA-) recognised professional body, which therefore ensures that people who carry the CFP® designation are qualified, experienced and professional.

So, to answer the question, the financial planning profession in South Africa compares favourably with any of the more traditional and established professions – the latter are merely older and perhaps more established. Be assured that when you consult a professional financial planner, a member of the FPI, with the CFP® designation behind their name, you are speaking to a true professional.

When you are 25 years old, you (for example) take out a retirement annuity for R1 000 per month (no escalation), contributing till age 55. Assuming a 10% net growth per annum – the maturity value amounts to R2 260 488. You therefore make a commitment that ultimately translates to a multi-million rand contract over time.

So let’s consider the question again that we posed at the beginning:

Who do you consult when it comes to your long-term financial well-being and wealth?

When you have a legal or medical problem that could have multi-million rand implications over time, would you settle for anything but the best professional advice? Probably not. Yet so many people are willing to hand over their hard-earned money all too easily. The importance of your financial well-being necessitates skilled and astute advice. Contact a financial planning professional to assist you to reach your life and financial goals.

How do I get hold of a professional financial planner?

Visit the FPI’s consumer website at to find a Certified Financial Planner professional near you.


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