Clash between CII and PFS prompts 'unwanted' outcome

Immediate action is taken by wider group

Clash between CII and PFS prompts 'unwanted' outcome

It doesn’t look like the issues between the board members of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and the Personal Finance Society (PFS) have been put to bed, despite suggestions they would be ‘moving past’ them in September.

Earlier this year, in a joint statement by the CII and PFS, they revealed that an agreement in principle was reached on a range of matters that were not publicly elaborated on at the time.

“There has been ongoing dialogue and recent disagreements, and both parties now agree that they have reached a point where they can collaboratively move past these,” stated the professional bodies three months ago.

Now, just days before Christmas, it’s been disclosed that the CII has had to “equalise” the board at PFS, with further changes in the offing.

“The PFS board is currently made up of five PFS member directors and two institute directors,” noted the CII on Wednesday. “Today (December 21) the CII is announcing the appointment of three further institute directors, who together will equalise the PFS board with immediate effect.”

The trio consists of former Harpenden Building Society chief executive Sarah Howe, former Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator board member Neil Watts, and CII membership and engagement director Azlina Bulmer.

In addition to the three new institute directors, it is the CII’s intention to form a majority by appointing another one to the PFS board after a 30-day consultation period.

“This is not an outcome the CII Group board wanted or pursued,” asserted CII chair Helen Phillips. “The CII team has worked hard for many months, initiating independent mediation, and responding to the PFS board’s demands diligently, professionally, and with immense goodwill.

“Therefore, it is deeply disappointing that independent mediation has failed, and serious and significant governance failures have arisen, which leave the CII Group board with no alternative but to take this action at this juncture and resolve matters without further delay.”

Phillips, at the same time, offered the following assurances: “The CII Group board remains deeply committed to its PFS members. The PFS is a critical part of what we do and an essential voice for advice. Now more than ever, it is important that all our time, energy, and resources are fully invested in building a stronger future, and delivering exceptional services, for our PFS and CII members.”

The root of the clash is not discussed further in this week’s pronouncements, but it is public knowledge that the wider group had, more than once, proposed deregistering the PFS – a CII subsidiary – as a legal entity. The proposal was rejected by the PFS board on all occasions.

Meanwhile CII chief executive Alan Vallance said: “Sarah, Neil, and Azlina all bring immense professionalism and exceptional experience to the PFS board. The newly composed board will continue to be mandated to focus entirely on protecting and serving PFS interests.

“The CII team will work with the new PFS board to embed best practice and establish the long-term governance arrangements that will ensure PFS members receive all the services and support they deserve without any further delay.”

In the interim, all PFS member services will continue to be provided and maintained by the CII.

What are your thoughts on this ongoing rift? Share in the comments below.