We set out our core ongoing CPD at the beginning of each year. Ensuring we cover those subjects we need to make sure we are always up-to-date with. These are topics we can plan ahead or that we know we need to ‘top up’ our knowledge on.

    In addition to that, as a lot can happen throughout the year with the Budget and Autumn Statement, we also ensure we complete ‘reactionary’ CPD. It is important to keep up with what is happening in the general financial planning market and this tends to be more organic. It’s not something you can necessarily plan, but it’s something as an adviser you need to keep up with; there are some great resources out there for this such as The Lang Cat and Finalytic reports that are produced.

    So, our CPD is structured to the extent that we plan in advance all the necessary technical matters we need to keep studying and learning but interspersed with additional things at need.

    We find it is really helpful to schedule your CPD and record it as you go, because you don’t want to get to December 15th and realise you need to do CPD all day every day for 2 weeks just to meet the minimum requirements.

    We don’t see CPD as just something to do to tick a box to please the regulator or compliance people; it’s about our own professional development and how we can do our jobs better for our clients.

    If you just go to CPD events to get the certificates, sit down and look at your phone the entire time, what is the point? You’re not even there for yourself!! If you are only there because the regulator says you need to record so many hours of CPD, are you really going to take anything in or develop as an adviser? If it is something that we must do, let’s do it well and make it something you enjoy and that will enhance your skills.

    Setting out the CPD

    At the beginning of the year our technical team will meet to discuss what the ‘core’ CPD subjects are that we should all brush up on and we assess these quarterly. Some of our core subjects for this year include pensions, EIS and VCTs, taxation and trusts and anti-money laundering, and the CISI’s Professional Refresher tool is quite useful for this.

    We then have things we do individually if we want to branch out; we’re flexible with this so we don’t just limit it to topics on the firm’s CPD plan. But at the same time it needs to be relevant; you can’t do flower arranging for example. It has to be professional development but not necessarily linked purely to technical knowledge

    For me, this year I have spent a lot of time researching for a book that I am writing. As a result, a lot of my CPD in the first quarter was focussed on family businesses and the tax and legal aspects of succession, as well as some of the psychological and emotional aspects that business owners face when contemplating their retirements.

    How to work out what’s useful

    Since RDR, a lot of the ‘old school’ providers have realised to get business you need to do more than take people on golf days or out for lunch. This is a good thing but, there is a trend for certain providers to dress up sales pitches as CPD events so you have to be cautious and there is a bit of trial and error. You could go to something that sounds like it will be on a very useful technical subject that actually turns into a product pitch which is wasting your time. It can be hard to work out what’s going to be genuinely useful and what will be a sales pitch; but you start to get an understanding from reading what the speaker will discuss, what the main themes are for the event and sometimes who the speaker is.

    I recently attended a conference hosted by EBI Portfolios which was great because it was so varied and the topics and speakers were all different; there were some product providers but their content was useful, we also heard from accountants who discussed their views on tax planning for high net worth clients. Some events you go to, the presenters just read through the same dull slides over and over again so it was refreshing to have such a breadth of issues discussed.

    Breaking away from traditional CPD

    We believe that the role of advisers is evolving away from a purely technical role to a more coaching style role and finding CPD and courses related can be slightly trickier, but far more relevant; For example, I’ve been on a course that Chris Budd has arranged through Quiver Management which was brilliant.

    It doesn’t always have to be about structured CPD where you get a certificate at the end. Unstructured CPD which we also see great value in; we try and mix up what we learn so it’s not all about boring product stuff and we allow a lot of different things to fall into CPD; anything that advances you in a professional perspective.

    I’m also involved in a couple of mastermind groups where we discuss challenges, business matters and market developments with other like-minded individuals. I am a member of one for South West financial planners but also go to one with people from other professions, including solicitors, which is great as you get to look at something from a completely different angle.

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