London — Four professional bodies representing retail financial services, including banking, insurance and investment sectors, announced a statement of principles for professionalism in advance of the Financial Services Authority's (FSA) interim statement on the retail distribution review.

The 'Edinburgh Declaration' is supported by: The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), London; The Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland (CIOBS), Edinburgh; The Institute of Financial Planning (IFP), Bristol, England; and The Securities & Investment Institute (SII), London.

The Declaration states their commitment to develop and build an industry consensus around raising standards and professionalism. It sets out a statement of principles covering the following areas:

• Simplifying the "alphabet soup" of qualifications and designations, and to improve the public's understanding and confidence in financial qualifications.

• Improving professional standards and ethics including the creation of a single independent professional standards board to create, oversee and develop high standards that ensure consistency.

• Developing a higher qualification benchmark, and a transition process to achieve this in an agreed timeframe.

Each of the professional bodies will use these principles as the basis for fleshing out the work needed to develop detailed proposals with the FSA and the industry in the months ahead.

"Higher standards of professionalism protect the public interest,” says Simon Thompson, CIOBS chief executive. “As a professional body, the CIOBS has always sought to improve ethical and professional standards, and we are delighted to be part of this industry-led initiative to improve trust and confidence in the financial services profession."

The IFP has been involved with raising international standards in Financial Planning since 1995, according to Nick Cann, IFP CEO. “As a member of the Financial Planning Standards Board, it has been at the heart of—and influential with—changes that have brought about a standard setting body that oversees the development of Financial Planning standards around the world,” he says. “It can, therefore, bring this tremendous experience to developing a similar body to govern financial services professionals in the UK. This has to help ultimately deliver a better consumer experience"

Source: The Chartered Insurance Institute

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