Solus Financial Planning founder, Gavin Johnson tells FTAdviser about the “tough process” the firm went through to become accredited by the CISI.

Johnson told FTAdviser about how he achieved the status of a CISI Accredited Financial Planning Firm within 15 months of starting a new firm.

Recounting the moment he was informed of his application’s success, the head of the Chelmsford-based firm stated: “It was an email that arrived.

“I’m far too long in the tooth to remember getting any exam results, apart from ones I’ve got in this industry, but I was very nervous.

“It was headed ‘accredited firm application’ and I thought ‘I know that it’s either telling me that I’ve passed or I’ve failed’.

“I was absolutely over the moon. It really was exciting.”

 Discussing the process of accreditation and his experience with it, Johnson recounted: “Like everything else with the CISI you have to work for it.”

He explained that the application process is “extremely exhaustive” and that his firm had to provide “details of every aspect of the business you could possibly think of”.

“Everything from personnel to philosophy, the whole lot.”

Johnson also stated: “I had to provide an example of an actual report that had been produced within the previous three or six months, obviously with names redacted, to prove I provide proper holistic financial planning.”

 Additionally, he recounted having to provide a copy of his accounts as the CISI are “very hot on” making sure that you are in a sound financial position if you’re giving financial advice.

Despite the demanding nature of the application, Johnson was positive: “It was a tough process but to me that’s what made it all the better.

“If you go through something like that and you’re unsuccessful then at least you should be able to take away something you can learn from that experience and do better next time.

“And if you go through that process and, like me, you are successful then it’s validation that what you’re doing is good.”

Johnson also spoke on what achieving the AFPF status meant to him and his firm saying “it is a symbol”.

“There are a lot of firms out there who use the chartered badge as a marketing tool, and why wouldn’t you?”

He added: “So why wouldn’t I use the accredited firm status to be seen in that light and make sure that it is in any marketing material.”

 Talking about his plans after achieving the status, Johnson stated: “I think I want to give something back.”

He explained: “Once you’ve got to a certain level it’s about giving back to other people to help bring the profession on and that’s certainly an ambition of mine.

“I’m very proud to be the 59th accredited firm but I don’t want it to stop there.”

By Tom Dunstan


View the full article by FTAdviser here.