Ex-PFS board member poses questions in open letter amid ongoing CII rift

Spotlight on £10 million PFS member funds held by the CII

Ex-PFS board member poses questions in open letter amid ongoing CII rift

Insurance News

By Terry Gangcuangco

Vanessa Barnes, a former member of the Personal Finance Society (PFS) board, has published an open letter amid the ongoing rift between the PFS and the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), more than a year after the two camps said they were going to “move past” their disagreements.

In her letter, which was posted on LinkedIn and distributed to those signed up to ourpfs.co.uk, Barnes highlighted the fact that the CII currently holds more than £10 million of PFS member funds. She also pointed to the concerning high-level departures at the CII, including that of the professional standards director and chief operating officer.

Addressing the letter to CII-appointed PFS board chair Andy Briscoe, Barnes asked the following questions:

  • Have you asked for the remaining funds held outside of the designated PFS account to be transferred to the PFS account?  
  • If you have not asked for the entire reserves to be transferred to the PFS account, how have you reached a level of confidence that there is no risk to the funds despite the CII financial statement and the imminent departure of the CEO and finance director?
  • Has the current PFS board considered whether a receiver/liquidator would consider funds not held in the dedicated PFS account as not belonging to the PFS?
  • What is your plan for the continued provision of member services in the event that the LTIF (long-term investment fund) is exhausted and the CII continues to demonstrate significant operating losses?
  • How confident is the PFS board that the value of the owned (not licensed) asset and the amortisation figure of £9.005 million is valued correctly?
  • What concerns have you expressed to the CII board regarding the fall in Institute current assets to a negative figure, and what questions have you raised concerning the significant level of trade debt held by the Institute?  
  • Has the PFS board asked the CII board to sign a statement of going concern for the Institute operating entity level?

Alasdair Walker, ex-chair of the PFS expert practitioner panel, ‘fully endorsed’ and reposted the open letter. Walker himself had written to the PFS board on more than one occasion.

Referring to the “crux of the scandal,” Walker wrote in October: “£10 million of funds that are constitutionally required to be used for the exclusive benefit of PFS members are missing, and despite asking for the better part of a year, nobody can tell me where they are.”

Meanwhile the CII, which held its annual general meeting on Thursday (November 30) in London, confirmed the election of its president for 2024.

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