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So, this time next year, we will be happily basking in a the satisfaction of all the hard work that has been done to prepare for the RDR and IFA businesses will be reaping the benefit of a more professional industry. Well, that is the FSA’s intentions anyway.

At the way things are going, there is always the chance that some businesses will still be trying to catch their breath after a lastminute dash to complete their qualifications, fill in any gaps and get their statements of professional standing.

Having spoken to a number of businesses about their RDR readiness in the last few weeks, it seems IFA businesses span the whole range of possible stages of preparation. Some say they are confident they are already there, with all staff at QCA level four, gap-fill done and SPSs in place for all staff, with capital adequacy and RDR-compliant charging structures in place to boot.

Many other businesses either have their plan for compliance established, with a timetable to meet RDR requirements in place, while some firms still seem to be working out the final details of what they need to achieve.

With less than 11 months to go, there is a concern that firms that fall into the last category, or even the middle category, have left themselves with a very tight schedule to get their qualifications in place and ensure they can still advise their clients on the first day of 2013.

If I was to put myself in one of the above categories, it would have to be the middle one but I definitely have little room for manoeuvre. I have now got the first exam in the diary but at the rate of one qualification roughly every two months needed to hit the target, I now know that CII coursebooks are going to be my reading material of choice for the next few months.

First up is R01: financial services, regulation and ethics. I figure I may as well get the driest of the subjects out of the way first in the hope that study for the more practical exams is a little bit more accessible.

If I stick to the timetable I have set myself, I should be finished in early November, with around six or seven weeks to spare.

From here, it does not look too punishing a schedule but it does not leave a lot of margin for error and I hope I will not regret leaving it too late to properly get to grips with the exams.

Gregor Watt, Editor, Money Marketing

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