Personal Finance Society cries foul on board move by CII

Membership said to be "deeply unhappy"

Personal Finance Society cries foul on board move by CII

Personal Finance Society (PFS) members are dismayed by a recent move by parent Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) to dominate the PFS board, as evidenced by strongly worded comments and a new sign-up page against what the professional body is calling “the CII coup”.

Among those who have expressed opposition is PFS member director Vanessa Barnes, who penned a 319-word post following the CII’s appointment of three institute directors to the PFS board to “equalise” it.

As mentioned by Barnes, “cynical” is a word that’s been used to describe the recent development in the ongoing CII-PFS rift. Past presidents Sarah Lord and Garry Hale both chose this descriptor.

On LinkedIn, Lord – who is co-opted to attend and speak at PFS meetings until next year’s annual general meeting – also wrote: “As immediate past president, I strongly refute the allegations made by the CII.”

As previously reported, the CII had cited “serious and significant governance failures” at PFS, as well as a failed independent mediation between the two camps.

Meanwhile, Insurance Business can reveal that there’s a sign-up page asking PFS members to “act now to stop the CII coup” and make their voice heard.

It’s unclear who specifically set up the page, which displays a message asserting that the CII needs PFS members more than PFS members need the CII.

“The PFS is responsible for the vast majority of CII ‘group’ revenues, and all of the surplus,” reads the message. “When exam fees are included, we estimate this to be over 60% of group revenue. There is £19 million of surplus revenue, which was paid by, and belongs to, the PFS membership.”

Part of it, referring to the board appointments, also says: “Make it clear that the membership is deeply unhappy with this move.”

On the other side of the fence, new CII communications director Christopher Shadforth defended the wider body by posting a list of supposed myths and misperceptions surrounding the relationship between the CII and the PFS.

Shadforth, who came onboard in October, stated that it’s a myth that the CII has bullied its way on to the board of its subsidiary.

“The PFS Articles of Association establish that the PFS board should include institute directors, and there are provisions for the CII Group to appoint the majority of PFS board members,” he declared. “That is the mechanism that the CII Group board has needed to utilise, given the serious governance failings that have been observed.”

As of this writing, the said governance failings have yet to be outlined publicly.

Shadforth also denied the move as being a “cash grab,” while making a direct pronouncement that “there is no plan whatsoever” to deregister the PFS.

Meanwhile, it’s been reported that an emergency PFS board meeting failed to take place on Thursday due to a lack of attendees from the institute directors’ roster. All member directors, including Barnes, were present.

PFS member Anthony Villis, managing director of First Wealth, said “we have a right to be angry” on LinkedIn.

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