Different Perspectives on CPD for Life Planners

This exchange of emails between AoLP and KI was made at the request of KI.

Dear George,

I hope you do not mind me addressing you directly; given our close work history.

I offer an apology for failing to read the small print on KI training as an olive branch. I simply wanted our disagreement on this matter to end.

As a fellow Transparency Taskforce Ambassador, I had hoped you might understand and welcome my feedback on the CE-Points system. I dislike rent seeking systems, and campaign to remove them. Such as, fee-for-no-service or asset raking.

The small print on KI training T&Cs I would bring to your attention is as follows:
1) Intellectual property limitations mean RLPs cannot use what is taught without your consent.
2) Your CE-Points system appears to me to be rent seeking, and I thought you should be made aware.

You may recall you wrote to me last year on the IP matter. You wrote:
“There’s a rumor that you are downplaying our EVOKE® method to your clients at The Academy of Life Planning. Could that possibly be true? Also, we just want to make sure there is real clarity in your participants’ minds that they are not getting trained in EVOKE® or our Three Questions through your program. Otherwise, we are concerned that our Registered Life Planners® will be very unhappy.”

I assured you then that I was not downplaying, or training on, your copyrighted methods. These past five years, I have had no need of Life Planning Mastery day-long courses as I cannot use what you teach without your consent, and therefore can no longer find what you teach useful.

Why would I pay to attend a programme that was not useful? Clearly I would not. Which is why I am unable to accept your invitation to your next Life Planning Mastery.

Instead, I have had to produce my own copyright free system which I can share openly with my membership. The Game Plan is free to use, modify, and share with any audience. We can use it with groups and for clients on a subscription basis. We can use it freely with consumers and planners.

The Game Plan differs considerably from your EVOKE® method. Not only to avoid copyright infringements, but also because I discovered a way of planning that avoids rent seeking. It is devised for non-intermediating financial planners. The aim is to create wealth, as opposed to gather it for rent. Wealth in every area of life, not simply investment accounts.

I coach planners on a one-to-one basis on my methods, and tailor a unique value proposition for each member. The Game Plan accreditation is for life. There is no continuing education requirement to retain accreditation or be described as “active”. Whilst planners can remain members of the support network, accreditation is not conditional that they remain so. Life planning for me is like love, an ever-fixed mark, a lighthouse which looks on tempests but is never shaken.

The Game Plan is based on a viewpoint that is many-thousands of years old, from long before nobility appropriated people’s traditional rights of access to the commons. Long before nobles even termed intellect … property. Long before the rent seekers sought rent.

I believe when we bring integrity to our value proposition, the need for rent disappears. When a “wall is placed between advice and distribution” I have found those rent seeking methods are neither valued, nor paid for, by clients. The system fails. A clear example of this is the Indian market where the regulator built such a wall.

Rather than depriving investors of rights by co-opting them into contributing to a tragic state of affairs, I instead focus on delivering real freedom in a commoditised market, where value propositions are eroded by regulation and rising consumer awareness relating to rent seekers.

Instead of co-opting planners into compulsory continuous education systems, I help them set up their business and see them on their way. Free to return should they find value in an ongoing service.

I have updated my blog post accordingly as requested.
Kind regards,
Steve
On 31/03/2021 20:24 Lora Woodward <lora.woodward@kinderinstitute.com> wrote:

Hi Steve,

Many thanks for your email. It seems we have come to a resolution around your concerns. We are aware that you have shared our email exchange in a recent blog post on your website. Given that you have moved this conversation from a private matter to one that it is public, we would appreciate it if you take one of the following steps: a) please post our continued email communications that show a resolution or b) delete the post. 

We look forward to seeing you at future Mastery programs when you are able to fit them into your schedule. 

Kindest regards,
LoraOn Wed, Mar 31, 2021 at 5:00 AM Steve Conley <steve.conley@aolp.co.uk> wrote:

Hi Lora,
Firstly please accept my apologies for mis-spelling your name.

It is my fault. I thought that the RLP was a lifelong designation. I know now that other members were aware of the continuing education requirement, where I was not. My oversight. I was aware and attended many of the Life Planning Mastery courses in the early years, and was aware of that part of the programme. It helped me to grow my competence and confidence in life planning, and I thank you for it.

It would be a blessing if I was able to retain the RLP status. But can see that if I am unable to attend the Mastery that may not be possible, as I cannot see me being able to attend 8 hours of CEUs in the next two years. Due to how busy I am as a life planner, and also I am not using the EVOKE process. I can see the benefits of attending for social and networking purposes, though that is not currently my priority.

Loving kindness to you all, and apologies if my outburst has caused any additional work or inconvenience.

Kind regards,
Steve

On 30/03/2021 22:51 Lora Woodward <lora.woodward@kinderinstitute.com> wrote:

Hi Steve,

You bring up some great points, and we appreciate the opportunity to dialog about our decision-making. I’ll respond to your email in-line so each point you make may be addressed.

Kindest regards,
Lora

On Sat, Mar 27, 2021 at 4:04 AM Steve Conley <steve.conley@aolp.co.uk> wrote:

Hi Laura, Lora

Firstly, let me say that I, and every RLP I have spoken to on this matter, have the utmost respect, admiration, and deep affection for George, and for everything he has done. We are immensely grateful for his work. And we all are deeply indebted to this remarkable man for what he has shared with us. He is undoubtedly the acknowledged father of the life planning movement. Thank you George from all of us. Many thanks for this acknowledgement. George is incredibly proud of the curriculum delivered by Kinder Institute of Life Planning and the advisers we’ve trained globally. 
Thank you for explaining the changes. You’re welcome. It would have been even better had we had a chance to dialog with you around the adjustments when they were released in the fall.

I have to say I am deeply saddened by the news. Not just for myself. But also for all those loyal RLPs who invested heavily in your programme and earned the converted badge, Registered Life Planner (c), over many years of practice and to be proudly listed on planner search results at KI. A place where the public might surely go first to find active life planners. We’re so sorry again that you did not see the announcements we shared earlier on. To be clear, we are not talking about taking away the designation of Registered Life Planner® from anyone who has earned it, although it has always been our principle that to maintain the RLP® designation requires continuing education. The Life Planning Mastery day-long courses have been offered as a form of continuing education since 2009. Those planners that choose to deepen their skills through our continuing education program are listed at the top of our Life Planner Search becaue we can best vouch for their skills. We know they are using our latest methodology.

You see, this is not how “continuing education” works.
I can only give myself as an example. I will let other RLPs speak for themselves, although I will say that those few who I have spoken to about this are also deeply saddened by the news. You have some famous practicing life planners, and staunch advocates of KI, on the list of “inactive” RLPs, that may be equally insulted and also seem soon to lose their RLP status as well, should they fail to comply with your expectations. How very demoralising. There is no indication on our website that someone is an inactive or lesser life planner. We simply are listing the individuals we know to be actively practing Kinder Institute of Life Planning’s brand of life planning first. Most of the feedback that we have received on the adjustments has been very positive. Enforcing the continuing education requirement lends credibility to the program and shows that we are committed to excellence in our standards for the designation of Registered Life Planner®.

George, you wrote to me last year to check that my activities were not devaluing the status of the RLP badge. I assured you they weren’t. On the contrary, I elevate your proposition to my membership and readers. I have to say, you could not have devalued the status of a badge, one so courageously and relentlessly earned, any more than this. We are sorry to hear that you believe that the designation has been devalued. We couldn’t disagree with you more. For consumers, the press, and advisers, listing the professionals that have earned Registered Life Planner® and who are committed to continuing education first emphasizes the value and integrity of the designation.

Lora. You talk of rules that have always been. I apologise. I have been a member of KI for a decade, and I cannot recollect such rules. For example, if I am not mistaken I was actually listed on Planner Search Results as Master of Life Planning. I had expected that I had earned a badge for life, the RLP badge. Had I not thought this to be the case I might have hesitated for one moment at purchase. I thought I was buying, not renting. We have been offering continuing education in the form of Life Planning Mastery day-long trainings since 2009. It is from those programs that the term “Master of Life Planning” was created; it signified that a planner was actively advancing their education in life planning through our continuing education programs. It’s always been a temporary title describing the professionals who earned the RLP® designation and who remained current with their continuing education. The purpose of our Life Planning Mastery and other continuing education options has been to ensure consistent delivery of the life planning skills we teach and the highest caliber of quality among our members. We didn’t feel it would be right to have someone listed in our directory as a “Master of Life Planning” if they didn’t continue to advance their skills through our continuing education program. Additionally, we discovered that there was confusion among our members that the term was viewed as a separate designation. There is one designation and that is Registered Life Planner®. It seemed prudent to the consumers, media, and other professionals that use the search that they should be able to easily distinguish the planners delivering our latest methodology to their clients. To disambiguate the term, we now use “Active Registered Life Planner®” in our Life Planner Search to identify those planners who earned the RLP® designation and are actively continuing their education with us.

I assure you my life planning skills are sharp and current. I have been an active life planner these past 10 years. I have researched the origins of life planning in many faiths, cultures, and traditions and traced back life planning practices many thousands of years. For example, in Shinto philosophy the practices I use now date back some 12,000 years. I have published my findings, and am therefore an authority on the matter. I life plan eight hours a day, every day, and include weekends. An RLP said to me when they heard the news of my inactivity, that I am probably the most active life planner you have on your list. Also, I could teach RLPs a thing or two about life planning from my extensive investigations and studies. I could probably teach more than be taught. If there was a PhD awarded for life planning, I would probably have earnt it. To suggest I am not sharp or staying current in my skills is rather insulting. We do not mean to insult you and there is no suggestion that you or anyone else in our listing is not sharp or inactive in their profession. Far from it. We value you as a Registered Life Planner® and your contributions to the broader field. Our continuing education and the concept of remaining active may not be for every planner that has earned the RLP® designation, though we certainly would want it to be. Our continuing education is based on the methodologies we teach in our training programs. If you and other professionals that have earned the RLP® desination wish to demonstrate your activeness through our Life Planner Search, then it makes the most sense that you would choose to attend our continuing education options.

I would certainly not recommend the practice of giving with one hand as you take away with another, as this undermines your value of your proposition and ultimately the integrity of your brand. In the interest of finding a position that we can all agree on, not that you need agreement of membership. Here is a suggestion that might improve the integrity of your continuing education assessment process. Award CE-points for activities other than paid for KI training courses. The RLP® designation and listing on the Life Planner Search are part of the brand of Kinder Insitute of Life Planning. We are not an umbrella for everything that falls under the term “life planning”. We are leaders in the life planning methodology that George Kinder developed and that Louis Vollebregt, Ed Jacobson, Mary Zimmerman, and other trainers refined. It only makes sense that we would accept CE-points for programs we deliver. We have also made the CE-points easy and economical to earn over a two-year period. These are not onerous requirements.

To do anything other than this suggests that you think you have a monopoly on life planning. That KI is the only authority on the matter. We do not think that we have a monopoly on life planning. However, we are the only company that delivers the Registered Life Planner® designation, and we are the only authority on the methodology we teach.

Here is a definition of continuing professional development from the CII What is CPD? | Chartered Insurance Institute (CII). Here too is an explanation of what constitutes Suitable CPD activities | Chartered Insurance Institute (CII). Nowhere does it suggest that activities not provided by the CII are excluded.
Just a suggestion. In the meantime I will do my best to support the KI programme, but my heart is with those RLPs who fall short of meeting your expectations and requirements. Many thanks.

Kind regards,


Steve