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Britannia Life tightens up drawdown training

Britannia Life is tightening its income-drawdown requirements for its broker consultants by forcing them to pass tough new exams.

Seventy-six consultants sat an in-house exam after a three-month course. Two consultants failed the exam but nearly half passed with flying colours, achieving scores of 75 per cent or more.

The two who failed will undergo further training and have to pass the exam before they are allowed to advise IFAs on Britannia&#39s Pension Control drawdown product.

Britannia says the introduction of the exam follows the PIA&#39s failure to act on calls from many life offices to make drawdown a permitted activity.

Head of sales and marketing Francis Ghiloni says: "Britannia places great emphasis on training and qualifications and initiatives that give valuable reassurances to IFAs.

Britannia believes drawdown should be a permitted activ ity but, as yet, the PIA does not agree."

Last week, the IFA Association claimed that the PIA&#39s inaction has forced it to take drastic measures. The IFAA is drawing up guidelines for its members because it fears the complexity of drawdown could lead to accusations that products are being missold.

Life offices have welcomed the IFAA move. Winterthur Life technical support manager Mike Morrison says: "This seems like a good step as a starting point. We would like to see something from the PIA because the IFAA&#39s guidelines are not going to be foolproof."

But the industry is split over the need for drawdown to become a permitted activity. Life offices such as National Mutual and Scottish Equitable are fighting against such a move.

They argue that making drawdown a permitted activity would mean that all forms of retirement advice would need similar treatment.

But they want more education within the market and support training programmes.

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