Gap-fill resources and links
- Click on the buttons (right) for information from the professional bodies on your gap-fill requirements and their resources
- If you’re on LinkedIn, check out Mark Thewlis’ RDR Level 4 Diploma & Gap-Filling Support group for useful updates
The lack of clarity around gap-fill has been a headache for many advisers. The FSA’s recent professionalism paper made it clear that the regulator is still committed to leaving specific rules on gap fill and CPD to the individual accrediting bodies. That said, the accrediting bodies are now increasingly well set up to provide information and guidance on gap fill requirements.
Gap fill, as its name suggests, is the means by which those who have already obtained a relevant level 4 qualification and are practising as advisers can bring their existing qualifications to the new standards required by RDR. These gaps are likely to be filled by structured CPD rather than by undertaking further exams, though this guidance has come too late for a number of advisers, who have undertaken additional exams that ultimately turned out to be unnecessary for the purposes of gap fill.
Also, the gap fill process has been complicated by the range of different exams taken by advisers. Clarity over what would be needed to match these exams to the new RDR requirements has been relatively slow in coming. This has prompted the FSSC to call for an extension to the December 2012 level four exam deadline, but so far, the FSA has not shifted its position. It has reiterated that professional bodies will have the final say on whether the gap-fill is adequate. They will produce ‘statements of professional standing’, providing proof that advisers meet the criteria.
With this in mind, what do advisers need to do? Their first action point should be to identify the gaps that need to be filled. The accrediting bodies have diagnostic gap fill tools– the CII’s tool is available here: www.gapfill.cii.co.uk. An adviser’s first steps would therefore be to contact the examining body, which should be able provide guidance on how their exams are mapped against the new RDR requirements.
Advisers will then have to examine their CPD records to see whether they have the CPD points to cover any potential gaps. They will also need to be able to prove that they have undertaken the CPD. Where there are gaps, accrediting bodies such as the IFP recommend that advisers devise a structured programme of CPD for the year that will ensure that they are filled. As it stands advisers will have to prove all gaps are filled to get their Statement of Professional Standing in good time to continue as an adviser after the end of 2012.
Once advisers have established their gap fill needs, there is plenty of help and training available. The main IFA networks are all providing seminars that count towards gap fill CPD. Independent providers such as Morningstar are also organising events.
Consultants such as Mark Thewlis of the Qualifications Academy recommend that gap fill is, for the time being at least, a post-exam exercise. A number of advisers are trying to plan their qualifications around gap fill, but there is still insufficient clarity to make decisions in this way. Clarity should be forthcoming, but the exam timetable is more restrictive and should therefore be a priority.
Tell us your experience of gap fill. Are you baffled by the current guidance? Have the diagnostic tools been easy to use? What are your biggest questions?