Meet CISI Chief Executive, Tracy Vegro: “Financial wellbeing is wellbeing”

Tracy Vegro, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) and non-executive director at Salix Finance Ltd, is the first to admit how fortunate she’s been in her career to date.

Speaking with Victoria Hicks, Tracy says: “I have been super lucky to have had an enormously varied career.

“I joined Whitehall as a new graduate and benefited from lots of training, undertaking a range of interesting posts, covering financial services legislation, competition policy, energy efficiency and consumers. I also served on the ground-breaking Women and Work Commission.

“I undertook secondments into the private sector too, latterly to work on the recapitalisation of the Co-operative Bank. From there I went into being a regulator, first at the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and then the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).”

What has been your greatest success in your current role and what would you love to see happen during your tenure?

“I’m most proud of the recent launch of our new Ethical AI certification programme. We launched this just before Christmas last year and saw a great early uptake. I think this is due to the important role AI can play – especially given Consumer Duty – in meeting the different demographics and needs of future clients.

“I’m looking forward to focusing more on our members and meeting their needs in new and innovative ways.”

I know financial inclusivity is very important to you and the CISI, what do you mean by financial inclusion?

“It’s about making sure that there are options for everyone to seek and receive advice and have the skills and confidence to ask questions.  There have been numerous policy changes and a great deal of discussion about how to increase financial inclusion, so the topic is an important one for society as a whole.

“People don’t know that they can seek advice. So, they don’t appreciate how important it can be to get some form of professional input before making a financial decision, and not just taking the first product offered.

“Equally, many people don’t know where to go for that advice. So, I’m always really glad when our members do awareness-building stuff on platforms like LinkedIn, just saying who they are.

Financial Planning Week is another massive opportunity to help people. This is a key element of raising awareness. It focuses on busting myths around financial planning and encouraging conversations around finances – and it needn’t be hugely expensive to take some help and advice.

“These are just two examples, but there are so many more opportunities for more people to look at the profession and talk about the standards we uphold.”

Here, Tracy stops to make a point of how proud she is of CISI members.

“I’m really proud of our members,” she says. “They don’t just do entry level qualifications; many go on to be Chartered and continue their professional development. And some of our CPD is taken by members of other professional bodies. That’s how outstanding it is.”

“All of us should be thinking about the fact that there is a massive public need for professional advice and services. Nobody should be thinking that it’s a selective thing, we need to be building that trust and conviction.

“Here at the CISI that is something we’re trying to do more of. I want people to understand that professionals who have their designatory letters have worked hard to get them, and they are committed to helping clients and making a difference.”

Do you think the RDR played a part in the advice gap, because while it was great in some regards, it had a massive detrimental impact on the number of advisers

“Sometimes, you might be answering the wrong question – and RDR could be seen as an example of that.

“Regulators  act for the right reasons, but their actions don’t necessarily stimulate or open opportunities for everyone to seek the financial advice they need. People don’t know that they can seek advice or how important it is, which has created a gap.”

“People are more likely to seek help and advice when they need it because they trust the person or system they are seeking help from.

“And no regulator can regulate for trust – it has to be built through professionalism, integrity, and feeling proud of the profession you’re in.

“For CISI, being able to use our voice and represent our members’ views is vital to ensuring these types of debate leads to positive changes.”

It’s hard with the internet as well, isn’t it? Younger people have access to a lot of information – often contradictory information – and younger people in particular are interested in finance because of people they’ve seen on YouTube.

There are pros and cons with this but we’ve a long way to go in educating people about what financial planning is. How do you think we do that?

“I’m always struck by how many financial planners speak in schools, and I try and do speaking engagements like this, too.

“Whilst CISI want to display professional qualifications, as an educational charity we also have charitable objectives to improve public awareness of the importance of taking financial advice.

“Going into schools and teaching young people about financial planning can only do good.

“It can help engage people who might want to join the profession, but it also helps us show that being a financial professional is on a par with lawyers and accountants.

“Sometimes with the FCA – because they’re working with some of the bigger banks, and problems that happen on the larger end of the scale – what we do, the calibre of the people, and the quality of the advice tends to be overlooked.

“It’s one of the reasons I do interviews like this. It’s my role to be a good ambassador for the community that we represent, and, hopefully, that will help build awareness as well.

“I’m not sure I know exactly what a finfluencer does, but if that’s a channel through which people start to hear about financial planning, that’s a good thing. As long as it’s backed up by them seeing a professional who can give high-calibre help.”

Moving into adulthood, auto-enrolment placed onus on employers to help address the pension gap. Do you think employers should play a bigger role in financial education and support?

“Yes, I do – I often speak to employers who say they offer this benefit, or this service, or perhaps an online help desk. But if people don’t know about it, they don’t use it, so it’s not really serving the need.

“Instead, employers could work with local financial planners and do good in multiple different ways. We talk a lot about wellbeing of course, but not so much about finances. Yet, the reality is – financial wellbeing is wellbeing. And access to advice provides a benefit to staff but also to the employers.

“There’s clearly more innovation we can do around the pension gap and other inequalities. And technology could be a tool to deliver things like webinars and other types of online educational activity.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about awareness. You might have a pension gap, or a mortgage issue, but unless you know where to go for advice, you don’t know what you don’t know – and that’s a much harder problem.

“We talk about ways our current behaviours can impact the future – how managing our diet can stop us from becoming obese, for example – but we don’t do that with financial activities.

“Mostly, people seek advice due to personal timing – often at times of crises. And we should be talking about that more.

“Everybody talks a lot about wellbeing, but financial wellbeing generates other wellbeing.

“So, given things like auto-enrolment, why wouldn’t you go to the next level and talk about other aspects of financial planning? Especially with so many advantages to reap – fewer sick days, less stress, happier workforce, increased productivity.

“One of the biggest questions I’m asked is ‘how can we ever resolve the gender pension gap?’

“In my opinion, the sooner you start to save and understand what you need to have a good retirement the better. But we don’t talk like that.

“Many people assume that things are more equal now. While there is a lot of equality of opportunity, some responsibilities still fall more on one person than another.

“Sometimes, people have a pension gap because they didn’t plan soon enough to deal with having caring responsibilities for their children and elderly parents at the same time.

“This can create an “either end” problem – more so for women than for men. It would be really good if we could get both employers and their teams talking about this more.”

Increased regulatory burdens have led to advisers dropping lower-value clients, which increases the problem of financial inclusivity. How do we avoid this?

“Technology can be a solution in that it can help meet compliance responsibilities and segment potential client groups, saving time and cost.

“I’m also proud that CISI has established a charity – the Future Foundation – which is seeking to help close the gap that exists in relation to financial literacy. The hope is that this will foster greater financial awareness and boost life chances, ensuring a larger group in society are enabled to invest successfully.”

We work with firms who are at the point of exit. What advice would you offer anyone approaching exit?

“Take the time to properly plan and work out how you are going to communicate the change. It’s all about transition – using empathy and all those soft skills gained.

“I’d also make a plea for those leaving to offer help to newer entrants through mentoring and some form of ongoing guidance, so that the profession can continue to benefit from their knowledge and insights.

“People know you in a local community and you want to continue that great reputation. Be an advocate for the profession and pass on your knowledge – not just your clients.”

Get in touch

If you’re an adviser who’s thinking of selling your business, we can help. To find out more, email or call 0113 4656 111.


Is Instagram an effective marketing tool for financial planners?
Have a read


Could an Employee Ownership Trust be a good exit opportunity for you?
Have a read


Culture clash: How your business culture could influence a successful sale
Have a read
Arrow icon

We're your

Say 'elo

We’ve got our thinking caps on and we’re ready to mingle.

    How can we help?