In a briefing note released today, the regulator says it will not be able to confirm what the new QCA level four qualification will contain until the end of the year and it expects bodies to have exam offerings ready for advisers halfway through 2010.
The FSA and the Financial Services Skills Council will consult on the breadth of coverage and the content of the QCA level four qualification in June this year.
The FSA says it is also considering a competency-based assessment as an alternative to exams.
The FSA says: “This will need to be as rigorous and based on the same core threshold requirements as the new qualifications.”
The regulator has reiterated its “no regrets” approach to study, assuring advisers that any gaps in knowledge requirements can be dealt with via CPD.
The FSA says it expects the new standards to include core subjects, such as regulation and ethics, investment principles and risk, taxation and personal financial planning, as well as further requirements for specialisms.
It says: “Once the breadth and content for the new threshold appropriate examination standards are known in 2010, then we will be in a position to start defining the size of the gaps between current qualifications and how much CPD is required to fill those gaps.”
Personal Finance Society chief executive Fay Goddard has welcomes the FSA’s clarification that the qualification will be made up of a number of required modules, all of which will need to be at level four.
She says: “We are pleased that the FSA has clarified what they mean by a level 4 qualification. Firms and advisers need to know where they stand when selecting a route to the qualification and they will now be able to make an informed choice. The FSSC needs to complete its work before any qualification can be guaranteed to be “RDR compliant” but the announcement today clearly indicates that the FSA’s preference for a modular qualification structure.”
Chartered Insurance Institute chief executive Alexander Scott says: “This is a most helpful clarification to those advisers who have already achieved our diploma in financial planning and those currently working towards it. These advisers have nothing to fear. This is exactly the statement we wanted.”