The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) will expand its vulnerable client best practice course to all members after a backlash about launching the pilot exclusively with St James’s Place.
The intention was to launch it to the wider market after two years.
The CII and SJP have been working on the unit for over two years, with the aim of helping IFAs acquire specialist knowledge to deal with vulnerable clients.
But advisers demanded that the qualification be accessible to everyone from the very start.
The announcement comes swiftly on the heels of a particularly bad period for SJP, which has been heavily criticised in the media for its adviser incentives.
International Adviser asked the CII if the decision to widen the pilot to all members was in response to the recent negative press.
Keith Richards, managing director of engagement at the CII, told IA: “The unit was scheduled to be undertaken by SJP as a pilot before being rolled out to the whole market.
“The response from our members has reinforced that there is significant appetite for a unit with this focus, and so the CII has agreed to widen the pilot group to help accelerate completion and make the final unit available to everyone.
“We can fully understand the reaction and criticism surrounding the positioning of this generic subject and apologise that it was positioned as an exclusive arrangement when it is actually the launch of the pilot period.”
Richards added that the CII has already started to receive interest after opening it up to all members and will be announcing further details in due course.
Edward Grant, divisional director responsible for professional development at SJP, said that “it was always our intention for this to be a qualification for the wider profession”.
“Having initiated the idea and developed it, we are delighted that the demand is much broader than just the SJP community,” the former president of the Personal Finance Society added.
“Ultimately we are driven by better client outcomes and we see inclusive financial planning as a significant market development in achieving that and are proud to have supported it so far.”
There has been a rise in awareness about vulnerable clients globally.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rolled out a consultation about the proposed guidance for firms on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers in July 2019.
In August, IA reported on a survey that found 75% of financial advisers believe there is a need for greater education and additional resources in the industry around this topic.
Earlier this week, National Australia Bank (NAB) set up a specialist team of bankers dedicated to recognising and responding to vulnerable customers, while financial services software provider Altus rolled out a tool to help firms improve the identification and management of vulnerable customers.