I have read some interesting articles recently regarding education for advisers and these have raised some very interesting issues.
For many years, other than internal company licences for products, there were no formal qualifications for advisers. In the early ‘90s, the Financial Planning Certificate was introduced. Whilst the exams were quite basic, I passed them all in I one sitting, there was quite a cull of advisers who could not pass those tests. My thoughts about those advisers were “if you cannot pass those tests, what on earth are you telling clients?”
Then level four diploma in financial planning became the standard when the Retail Distribution Review came into force at the start of 2013. This was a major step up and again there was a cull of advisers. But this level of exams was bringing advisers nearer to the level of qualification of accountants and solicitors, although still well below.
more qualified advisers are more likely to be able to give good quality, rounded financial advice.
More recently, the introduction of the Statement of Professional Standing (SPS) has meant that advisers need to prove that they have undertaken training, theoretically to ”gap-fill”. This is to cover aspects of financial services that the advisers would normally not encounter in their normal practice. Some may argue, if an adviser is not going to use that, why bother? But if you consider holistic advice, then it does make sense.
Over the years, I have found that more qualified advisers are more likely to be able to give good quality, rounded financial advice.
The Chartered level of qualification has been the gold standard for some time. Although, it seems that the numbers of adviser holding this level of qualification has tailed off over the past couple of years. But I would expect this level to become the ticket to the disco for advisers in the near future.
So we fast forward to 2018.
Recently, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) have created a re-assessment test for advisers with the level four diploma. The test has been put together because only a few large firms test their advisers’ knowledge on a regular basis, and many advisers have never been retested since they originally passed the test.
While use of the test is voluntary, the regulator has warned it may force advisers to take it if deemed necessary. However, I feel that it would be a good idea for this to be made part of the SPS renewal process. Perhaps even to the extent that the SPS cannot be awarded until the test is passed.
Another issue that has been raised recently is the need for advisers to remain up to date with their qualifications and also movements in regulation. I passed my G60 in 2003, 15 years ago. This allows me to be considered as a “Pension Transfer Specialist”. But is my knowledge up to date. The AF3 exam was brought in some years ago and the AF7 Pension transfer Advice test was brought in a couple of years ago. Perhaps I ought to consider taking these exams to ensure that my knowledge is still up to date.
However, would these new tests cover the recent introduction of the Appropriate Pension Transfer Analysis (APTA) including Transfer Value Comparator (TVC)? This is going to come into force into force on 1st October, but I wonder how many pension transfer specialists are really familiar with these new rules and how to apply them.
It all comes back to advisers having up to date knowledge to allow them to provide the most accurate advice to their clients.