Are the UK’s CII Diplomas what you need when you are advising overseas?

The OpesFidelio Business Development Manager, Shane Wood, was one of the four invited guests on the Advisory Panel on Wednesday May 3rd, at the International Adviser Forum held in London at the Waldorf Hilton Hotel.

There was a question proposed about qualifications, and the relevance of the the CII exams to advisers operating in the “international” domain. Read this piece below from International Adviser magazine to see what the responses were from the advisory panel.


However, there has been some backlash to some of the comments made by independent adviser Sarah Lord, and indeed by Shane as well. Far from suggesting that the CII qualifications are of “no use” to advisers operating in the international domain beyond the borders of the UK, Shane has asked us to clarify that he was addressing the particular problem of adviser’s knowledge of taxation specifics within certain key jurisdictions, where these are extremely important to being able to provide ‘good advice’ to somebody who is tax-resident in that country. France, where he has many years of previous experience, is just one such jurisdiction.

If we look under the bonnet of the CII qualifications, clearly the wisdom and knowledge therein falls into two quite distinct categories. There are perfectly fine “financial planning principles” that can be gotten out of having the CII qualifications, and these are good, sound ideas and practices that can be applied pretty much universally. These are not country-specific, but prescribe generally good professional techniques with regards providing clients with sound financial planning advice.

But what IS very country-specific is how that financial planning is then applied within a particular jurisdiction, particularly with regards to the taxation within that country, and the eventual selection of a product solution. If an adviser does not know a country’s tax laws inside out, then they could inadvertently be giving poor advice, if they based what they are telling a client purely on what they have been taught is good advice within the UK.

To use France as an example to quickly illustrate this, international portfolio bonds and platforms do not receive the same favourable tax treatment within France as do their own assurance vie investment products, hence making them a less good proposition. Also, France has their ISF ‘wealth tax’ that means that in many circumstances, a client taking out a mortgage can actually help to decrease their wealth tax obligation – even if they could happily afford to buy a property outright with cash.

In other words, what the UK’s CII qualifications cannot and do not pretend to do, is to prepare an adviser for the tax specifics of any country – other than Britain. That knowledge and information has to be learned elsewhere.


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