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A painful process?

The Mortgage Code Compliance Board&#39s December 31 deadline to qualify as a mortgage adviser is a matter of weeks away but it is estimated that half of all mortgage advisers are yet to obtain the necessary approved professional mortgage qualification.

By the end of this year, any adviser providing mortgage advice and recommendation must have completed either the Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice (CeMAP) or the Mortgage Advice Qualification (MAQ). Under the board&#39s registration rules, those failing to do so will be restricted to providing information only on mortgages.

Out of an estimated 70,000 advisers who need to qualify (40,000 mortgage intermediaries plus about 30,000 advisers working for lenders), so far only 37,000 advisers have passed one of the accredited qualifications. Those advisers who fail to meet the end of year deadline will only be able to give advice under supervision by a qualified adviser.

It seems clear that the majority of advisers are putting off doing these qualifications – but it need not be as painful as you might think. The MCCB has indicated that the combination of the MAQ and the Chartered Insurance Institute&#39s Financial Planning Certificate will satisfy its qualification requirements.

Over 9,000 people have completed MAQ and to date the institute has 7,000 entries for the remainder of this year. To help meet the demand, the CII is holding additional exam sessions every month.

MAQ has been specifically designed to provide a rigorous, thorough test of knowledge. Developed by professionals with wide market experience, it is strictly relevant to the work advisers undertake every day. This means that while it remains a searching examination, it should not present major difficulties to advisers who are prepared to undertake the necessary study.

While it is easy to bury your head in the sand, delaying taking the exam until the last minute can add unnecessary pressure to the process. However, candidates must ensure that they have prepared fully and are advised to allow at least 60 hours of study for the MAQ.

The examination itself consists of a single three-hour paper split into two parts. The first comprises 50 multiple-choice questions while the second contains two case studies (one covering the setting up of new mortgage arrangements, the other covering the servicing of existing mortgages, including remortgages, further advances and buying an owner out of a property).

To make life as easy as possible for advisers, a comprehensive range of study support materials and revision aids are available to assist those preparing for the exam.

Also available are MAQ fact cards. These summarise key information contained in the course book and are ideal for studying when travelling to and from work or in situations where using the course book itself is impractical.

An interactive tutorial – Mortgage pass-plan learning – is available through the CII&#39s new online education and training service, ed., which is available at www.ed.cii.co.uk.

The programme covers the syllabus in depth and is backed by a range of tools designed to improve the learning experience, including online course books, course-tracking, a personal study planner and student discussion group bulletin boards.

To help advisers to achieve MAQ exam success, the CII is offering substantial discounts on ed., with introductory prices for individuals starting at £50 against the normal price of £110. Corporate MAQ purchasers can also gain access to ed. at discounted rates.

Another popular way to study is through face-to-face training. The CII has a range of scheduled one-day and three-day intensive revision courses. To meet demand two additional courses have been introduced in London on November 6-8 and 27-29.

Revision courses are specifically designed to sharpen candidates&#39 knowledge in the run-up to the examination itself, giving students tips on useful revision and examination techniques, practice questions as well as the opportunity to clarify areas of concern, chapter summaries for revision purposes and an outline of common mistakes.

Advisers can also use MAQ as the foundation of a career-long learning programme designed to demonstrate professionalism and all-round capability. The combination of MAQ with the FPC also serves as a half-credit towards the CII&#39s Advanced Financial Planning Certificate.

Holders of the AFPC are also qualified for professional membership of the Society of Financial Advisers, the financial services arm of the CII. One of the key benefits of Sofa membership is access to a comprehensive programme of topical workshops, seminars, conferences, regional events, case studies and roadshows all designed to keep members&#39 knowledge up to date.

As far as the mortgage industry is concerned, the MCCB requirements represent a universal benchmark. With all advisers holding an appropriate combination of qualifications, such as FPC and MAQ, customer confidence can only be enhanced – to the benefit of the market as a whole.

Full details of these dates and further information on all aspects of MAQ study and revision, including ed., are available at www.cii.co.uk.

With the MCCB&#39s deadline for qualification as a mortgage adviser rapidly approaching, there is still time to take the MAQ exams and ensure accreditation is in place by the end of the year

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