RQ Certified, the Financial Planning profession's new standard

James Valentine
December 6, 2023
James Valentine

We're proud to announce the launch of Certified, RQ's objective universal benchmark that demonstrates the all-round quality of a financial planning firm in the UK.

Designed by experts from across the professions and delivered in conjunction with the CISI, RQ Certified is a key part of the wider RQ professional collaboration ecosystem, and will enable great Financial Planning firms to stand out, shine and grow the way they deserve to.

Why we designed and built RQ Certified

There are other certification processes available to planning firms – many of them very good, helpful and important, including, and in particular, the CISI's Accredited Financial Planning Firms.

But each is focused on specific elements of what makes for a better firm and better client outcomes rather than considering all of them. In addition, they don’t have the commercial cut-through we’d all like them to have: you’re great and high-quality financial planning has the power to change lives, but do accountants and lawyers know how good you are, in absolute terms and relative to the alternatives out there?

Just as importantly, do they understand why you’re better than many, if not most? Do they know what truly makes a good firm good?

A tool empowering greater collaboration

When it comes to intra-professional collaboration, there are many great financial planning firms which struggle to engage accountants and other professionals to build long-term relationships. As a result, frustratingly, many clients don't receive the help they need, want and deserve, while business growth is not all it could and should be.

When an accountant or lawyer wants to access financial planning, advice and service for their clients, often they either go to a 'big brand' firm (because this is 'safe'), or a selection of financial planning firms (that they think they know well and/or because they mistakenly believe this is 'compliant').

Alternatively, they do it themselves in-house. However, this can be expensive, time-consuming, distracting and isn't necessarily well-executed; often, it simply isn't a strength or strategic priority for the firm. This creates a gap that financial planning firms can and should fill through appropriate referrals from accountants and lawyers.

But, there are a few issues…

There have historically been many barriers to referrals: one of which is that managing a pool of referral partners requires ongoing due diligence work that an accounting or law firm has to complete on each relationship. They have to continually oversee this burdensome process (made no easier now by Consumer Duty) and as busy professionals in this situation, will inevitably look to reduce this responsibility.

In addition, alongside a desire and pressure to focus on their areas of expertise, priorities and revenue-generating activities, they are often keen to reduce their perceived risk exposure by referring to a larger, 'well-known' firm.

After all, as the old aphorism goes: 'No-one ever got fired for choosing IBM'.However, we all know that some of the best financial planning firms in the UK are small yet beautifully formed.

As such, smaller, newer, local, or independent firms can struggle to get the attention of accountants and lawyers because of this compliance workload and the often misplaced risk perception barrier. (A similar issue exists with consumers choosing options that are unlikely to be in their best long-term interests, too, of course).

There's often much more of a synergy between accountancy, law and smaller financial planning firms, but there's a gulf in how those firms establish and manage relationships.

Why RQ Certified matters for professional collaboration

Alongside RQ Monitoring, which aggregates essential data on all FCA-registered firms, enabling monitoring in real-time, RQ Certified provides a robust quality assurance standard that objectively, broadly and deeply evaluates firms.

In effect, RQ takes the due diligence strain from accountants and lawyers and helps them to find a great financial planning firm to work with, compliantly and confidently justify and evidence their decisions and actions in referring to their existing referral partners, or identify possible shortcomings and preferable alternatives.

Other elements of the ecosystem, including the platform and RQ Partnerships, support RQ Certified in overcoming the barriers to referrals and making collaborating much more modern, transparent, comfortable and easy.

What to learn more?

Download our introductory guide on RQ Certified, or join our waiting list to hear from us when applications are open.

James Valentine
Director of Growth

James is a product growth and product-led specialist, with over a decade of experience in user acquisition, product management, and growth marketing at high-growth fintech, legaltech, and regtech startups in London. He writes about product releases, professional collaboration, and news.