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Advisers support plan for them to be assessed at work

Advisers have applauded the concept of onsite assessments to test knowledge and competency as an alternative to exams under the retail distribution review.

Last week, Money Marketing revealed that the FSA is looking at the practical and cost implications of introducing onsite assessments for IFAs that have broad industry experience.

Norwest Consultants principal Harry Katz says the assessments would be a victory for advisers who do not want to take Level 4 exams.

He says: “Advisers should pay a fee for the assessments and why not? They have to pay the CII for exams. A £300 fee for onsite assessment is not outrageous. But the CII must not be charged with carrying out the assessments.”

Personal Finance Society chief executive Fay Goddard says if the proposal is approved, qualification awarding bodies should be responsible for carrying out assessments.

She says: “We support this as an alternative assessment but we would expect it to fall under the remit of the awarding bodies because they know what is required as far as the standards, scope and range of exams. The onsite assessments would have to be equivalent in all aspects.”

An FSA spokeswoman says the assessments would have to be “independent” and would not be carried out by the FSA. She says the June consultation paper will set out further details.

Highclere Financial Services partner Alan Lakey says onsite assessments could be an ideal way of testing competence for thousands of advisers with relevant industry experience.

But he adds: “The FSA has to make sure the right things are being assessed. We need to get away from looking at the process advisers go through and focusing more on the quality of advice being given.

“There has to be a recognition from the regulator that following the rules and ticking boxes doesn’t guarantee good advice.”

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