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Point/Counterpoint: Is having a 30-hour CPD requirement every two years the most effective approach?

Phil Billingham CFP

Phil Billingham, CFP, United Kingdom:

CPD is probably the most misunderstood part of retaining your professional status. But the most critical. Many financial planners have treated CPD as a chore. As a tick box. As a ‘Points mean prizes’ exercise. That’s wrong. CPD is there to ensure our commitment to give just as good advice next year, next month, next week as we do now. Please note, professionalism is a moral duty to our clients, that no regulator or professional body can usurp, but they can mandate and support it.

But that’s not the question. The question is, how much. And the answer is – as long as it takes. Measuring hours is inherently flawed. Why would slow readers get more credit than fast readers? My personal belief is that ‘anchoring’ at such a low level serves to diminish the vital role of CPD, and reinforces CPD as a minor ‘Tick Box’ process.

There is no ‘Right’ number. But the ‘most right’ number for most of us will be somewhere above 50 hours a year. An hour a week, to keep up to date. After all, to attain the CFP certification takes 100’s if not 1,000’s of hours. Surely it must be right that to maintain it you should spend 5% of that time?

I wonder what our clients would think was a sensible time?

Joel Redmond, CFP

Joel Redmond, CFP, United States:

I agree with Phil that the 30-hour CPD requirement is nominal, but I don’t think it should be raised. The main reason is that, even if planners are intellectually rigorous and curious people, they sometimes lose their eagerness to learn when it’s mandated by a higher authority – they can be rebellious. Consider the “20%” rule, which was Google’s original model borrowed from the world of academia. The 20% rule means that, one day out of a five day workweek, you work on whatever you want. Period. This means that if you spend 32 hours a week designing Java algorithms, you can spend 8 more hours writing code designed to count all of the kicks and punches in Bruce Lee movies – and rank them on technique, efficiency, or how funny the fake sound effects were.

The innate brilliance of the 20% rule is that it acknowledges that money isn’t everything, and for very smart people, it may very well not be anything. Independence of thought is more important, and recognizing people’s contributions and ideas is most important. How can the 20% rule be adapted into CPD or other requirements at the highest level for professional financial planners? In a way, it already is: you have a roster of possible subjects to brush up on for the 30 hour requirement. In a second way, it is again: the best planners aren’t going to stop at 30 hours and resolutely tell themselves “time to stop learning for the next 23 months.”  No; they’ll continue to search for newer and better ways to address their clients’ concerns with that indispensable Edisonian curiosity that characterizes genius. As Richard Feynman, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, quoted the historian Edward Gibbon in his epochal Lectures on Physics:

“The power of instruction is seldom of much efficacy, except in those happy dispositions where it is superfluous.”

Niraj Nanal, CFP

Niraj Nanal, CFP, India:

Knowledge can never be complete!

As we all want to call ourselves professionals, it becomes very important for us to increase our knowledge on a regular basis.

I feel that we should not look at CPD as merely a technical requirement or a formality to continue our certification. It should be part of our practice to continually enhance our knowledge.

I would like for CPD requirements to also include a behavioral aspect of financial planning and not just technical knowledge. Financial planners deal with people and we should all rise above number crunching and start looking at the human side of financial planning. If CPD can instill these beliefs, it could really help financial planners.

2 comments to Point/Counterpoint: Is having a 30-hour CPD requirement every two years the most effective approach?

  • I’d like to comment on my colleagues replies.

    Firstly, whilst of course it would be nice if everyone just did what was right, the levels of CPD required by Regulators and especially Professional Bodies does serve as an Anchoring Number. That is, they set out a level of expectation, and it is then for us a s professionals to meet or exceed those expectations. After all, we do not grant CFP status on the basis that ‘just do what you think is right’.

    Turning to content of CPD, I could not agree more. We need to widen CPD activity to include the skills and behaviours that add value to clients. Mere technical knowledge can be looked up. Behaviours have to be learned and refined.

    So can we do away with much of the rather juvenile ‘signing in and out’ for CPD that goes on, set high standards, trust Planners rather more, and look at our skills please?

  • Ashok Kumar Sethi

    The Continuing Professional Development is like Continuing Professional Education. In order to keep the professional status alive and updated, there is acute need of learning more and more in order to keep oneself completely addicted to learning process. The 30 hours CPD is a good approach in this direction. It would be also welcome, if the FPSB conducts regular seminar and debates during calling for a gathering at different locations and award certification to encourage the participants. Generally, it has been seen in India that once the professional degree is awarded in whatsoever field, none of the Regulating authority bothers to check the theme of “Continuing Professional Education/Development”. When a person is in field and his experiences with the various clients, particularly with CFP are very vast. He has many things to explore and explain to co-professional. Please think over on suggestion of conducting Conglomeration of this professional in various countries on regional basis. I have come across a lot of people, who are not interested to undergo CFP certification because of CPD every after 2 years.We have to encourage such persons in our arena and make them convinced with the necessity of such CPD. I fully endorse CPD, though I am a student and learning Financial planning, but may say firmly that during the course of my study, I am learning a lot. Learning in one’s life should be continuing phenmena.

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