GLOBAL BENCHMARK EN ROUTE FOR FINANCIAL PLANNERS: The upcoming International Standards Organization's 2222 standard is now in a final ballot, with the objective of achieving and promoting a globally accepted benchmark for individuals who provide the professional service of personal financial planning. This would be the first truly non-technical service standard for financial services.According to Stuart Kessler, managing director of RSM McGladrey Inc. and the chair of the ISO's blue ribbon committee on financing planning, "ISO 2222 will specify the ethical behaviors, competences and experience required of a professional personal financial planner. It describes and addresses the various methods of conformity assessment and specifies requirements applying to each of them."

His committee is made up of representatives of financial planners, banks, consumer protection bodies and research organizations, joined by financial planners who hold other designations such as the Personal Financial Specialist and the Certified Financial Planner. The experts come from 18 participating countries and 19 observer countries.

Kessler pointed out that to remain compliant with ISO standards, personal financial planners will be required to demonstrate continuing competence. "Records of their learning or relevant activities will have to be maintained," he said.

The actual guidelines will be released as soon as the final ballot has been tabulated. - Stuart Kahan

TSCPA LAUNCHES MONEY MANAGEMENT U: To help employers assist workers in making financial planning decisions, the Texas Society of CPAs has launched Money Management U. - a statewide employee enrichment program offering free personal finance resources for the workplace.

The TSCPA's Money Management U. materials cover various personal finance topics like identity theft, buying a home, credit card debt and teaching kids about money. Program resources include articles for employee newsletters and company intranets, table tents for break rooms, flyers, and paycheck inserts. In addition, companies may request CPA speakers for employee seminars about personal finance issues.

Employers can download these free resources for their workplaces by visiting the TSCPA's consumer Web site, www.valueyourmoney.org.

One of the factors behind the decision to unveil the new program was a Texas poll that showed nearly 30 percent of Texas employees are spending six or more hours each week at work worried about or dealing with personal finances.

DELOITTE SAYS FINANCIAL SERVICE COS. COULD BOOST SAVINGS BY HIGHER 'OFFSHORING:' Financial services companies are currently capturing less than a third of the potential cost savings offered by offshoring operations, according to a study by global audit concern Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. The study found that the most effective offshorers among financial institutions have 6.7 percent of their global headcount offshore, well ahead of the 3.5 percent average of the surveyed companies in the study.

DTT said that if all the companies that currently offshore were to reach this headcount ratio, they could reduce their collective annual cost base by $16 billion - more than tripling their current reported savings of $5 billion. However, the report revealed that too many financial services companies are not fully committed to offshoring, and therefore may not reach this higher ratio. The report said that cost savings rise as organizations expand the scope of their offshore operations. Institutions that move a single function offshore typically report average cost savings of 20 percent. Companies that offshore multiple functions enjoy savings of more than 45 percent.

Offshoring is expected to continue growing. Financial services executives estimate that 20 percent of their total cost base will be moved offshore by 2010, a rise from the 10 percent expected in 2006. Similar trends are expected in relation to headcount, with 10 to 20 percent of financial services employment expected to be offshore by 2010.

DTT's third annual offshoring study was based on interviews with 62 global financial services institutions.

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