Phoenix Wealth Management Andy Shaw, a delegate at the conference, said there needs to be an alternative approach to professionalism, rather than setting a benchmark qualification.
He said: “I’m very concerned that there are people in this industry who are good IFAs who are not in million years going to pass this stuff. No one at the FSA seems to be suggesting any kind of compromise to allow good people to keep working in the industry. It seems to be if you don’t pass these, you’re out.”
Another IFA, Paul Francis, said exams are “unnecessary”, and instead suggested the FSA look at an adviser’s suitability letters demonstrating accuracy and competency. He said: “That is the true measure of whether or not you’re capable and competent to advise.”
However, Legal & General groupwide strategy director Matt Hotson said you have to set a benchmark in order to attract new blood into the sector. He said: “If we aspire the industry to be perceived in the eyes of new employees coming into the industry as somewhere that is highly professional, I think it sets a benchmark.”
Hotson did recognise the “difficult transition that will happen for a number of years for a number of IFAs”.
Prudential intermediary distribution director Andy Curran said: “It’s a difficult one for the industry to deal with but at some stage we have to face it.”
Scottish Widows marketing and distribution managing director Andy Briggs suggested a practical-based rather than an exam-based way of demonstrating a level of professional knowledge rather than the proposed QCA level 4.