Can I trust my financial adviser?
By Wouter Fourie (CFP®) - 7 January 2021
Past winner of the FPI Financial Planner of the Year competition and the co-author of The Ultimate Guide to Retirement in South Africa and, Secure your retirement. He is the CEO of Ascor® Independent Wealth Management.
I am sometimes asked, when meeting a new person and exchanging business cards, if you can really
ever trust your financial adviser.
In all honesty, the question has become less frequent as people start forgetting about the Sharemax
or American Bernie Madoff scandals, but it still speaks of a general mistrust of someone who
purports to give you advice but stands to make money from the advice they give you.
To be clear, it is perfectly rational and perhaps even advisable to approach anything related to your
life savings and your personal financial wealth with a healthy dose of cynicism or suspicion.
One way of addressing it, is to ask for referrals. And not only referrals from people who have
recently started their financial planning journey. Look for people who have gone some way down the
path towards retirement and who have known their financial planner through the good and the bad
Another way of addressing your suspicion is to look for the CFP mark.
The CFP mark – short for CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER – is an internationally recognised sign of
professionalism and ethical conduct and it is only given to highly qualified financial planners.
In South Africa, the CFP mark is controlled by the Financial Planning Institute (FPI). The Institute not
only keeps an eye on financial planners with this mark, but also accredits and monitors the
institutions that can train financial planners.
If you want to become a CFP-accredited financial adviser, you are required to hold relevant post-
graduate degrees from one of the institutions or universities that are duly accredited and audited by
Once you have completed the necessary qualifications, a financial adviser who is keen on becoming
CFP accredited must write and pass the FPI Board Exam and have three years of related experience
or one year worth of related Services-under-Supervision (SuS) mentorship, where you work under an
approved and CFP-accredited mentor.
In our case at Ascor Independent Financial Advisers, all of our financial planners are CFP accredited.
Their list of advanced post graduate degrees and qualifications include wealth and estate
management, financial planning, tax planning and retirement planning.
Returning to the CFP accreditation at the FPI. Aside from the professional qualifications, CFP-
accredited financial planners need to maintain their qualification through annual training and they
are held to a high ethical standard, which, if broken, can lead to their expulsion.
There is much more to say about the high standards and rigorous training of CFP-accredited financial
planners. These financial planners are trained to take a holistic view of your finances – not only focus
on the need that can be addressed through one of the products for sale – and they are required
Read more about Ascor® Financial Planning Services