Re: Reassurance of Personal Finance Society’s Fiduciary Commitment
Thank-you for your recent correspondence and engagement at our AGM, and I apologise for the delay in responding to your concerns. The PFS Board greatly appreciates your engagement on these matters, which recognises your deep and long-standing support for the organisation. I am writing on behalf of the PFS Board, and in doing so, I will also address the points you made in your original letter and more recent ‘open’ letter, published on the ourpfs.co.uk website.
As you are aware, through your attendance at the PFS AGM on 19 September 2023, PFS members were provided with the organisation’s Financial Statements for the year ending 31 December 2022 ahead of that meeting. Those statements, as required, were independently audited before publication. The stated closing PFS reserves, at end 2022, were £17,252,000, which accords closely with the sum you reference in your correspondence. It is also the case that the CII retains, at all times, a cash balance which exceeds the PFS intercompany debt it holds. This is evident in the published CII accounts for year-end 2021, and will likewise be evident when the CII 2022 accounts are published. I can also confirm that the CII has controls in place to ensure this continues to be the case in perpetuity, and that – as PFS CEO – I see these controls in operation. Furthermore, I must emphasise that it is simply not possible for the CII to use PFS funds without PFS Board approval. As such, the PFS Board unceasingly retains the opportunity to spend or invest the full total of PFS reserves as it deems appropriate. In any case, the PFS Board and CII Group Board agree that the PFS reserves are to be used solely for the benefit and growth of the Society as set out in the Objects of the PFS, something that our interim Chair restated at the AGM.
The PFS Board would like to emphasise that transparency and accountability are fundamental principles to which every member subscribes. All Directors are committed to ensuring that any financial transactions or adjustments are carried out in a transparent and justifiable manner. This is being supported through a set of revised governance documents, compliant with the Articles and reflecting lessons from the independent governance review undertaken earlier this year, which are being produced to assure the Society’s smooth running. I also know that every member of the PFS Board takes their personal fiduciary responsibilities, and dedication to our members, extremely seriously.
Each director, no matter how they are appointed is aware of their responsibilities to the Society and its stakeholders. The PFS Board’s commitment is unwavering, and it prioritises the best interests and success of the Society above all else.
I am sorry that the attending members of the PFS Board did not provide answers to your questions at the AGM that you feel were satisfactory. We understand that some members may prefer alternative arrangements to the Articles of Association that are currently in place, and it was explained that any changes to those Articles would need to be carefully considered. We wish to continue the dialogue, to consider what is appropriate in the circumstances.
In conclusion, the PFS Board is committed to working collaboratively, transparently and with members’ interests to the fore. We will keep you, and all our members, updated on developments and will in future address any concerns promptly and transparently. Your feedback and insights are invaluable to me and the PFS Board members as we work to secure the future of the PFS.
I am very happy to have further conversations with you as you feel necessary.
Chief Executive Officer (Interim)
The Personal Finance Society Cc/ The PFS Board of Directors