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CII’s alternative to exam will cost advisers £2,000

The Chartered Insurance Institute’s QCF level four alternative assessment is likely to cost advisers almost £2,000 – nearly four times the cost of its written exams.

PFS chief executive Fay Goddard says the professional body is piloting the alternative assessment in September with six IFAs, with the launch due in the final quarter of this year.

The CII says it is likely to cost around £1,950 but the price has not yet been finalised. It costs members £527 for written exams and £672 for non-members.

This compares with Aifa’s QCF level five case-study assessment, which it says will cost Aifa members £655, or £695 for non-members.

Aifa’s case-study-based exam was due to be available from August 1 but the launch has been delayed until September.

The CII alternative assessment will include submission of evidence such as existing qualifications and continuing professional development, plus an assessment day involving a case study, scenario discussion and a technical interview with a chartered financial planner.

Goddard says: “The alternative assessment will not be an easy option, advisers will still have to evidence the learning outcomes set out in the QCF level four framework.”

In June, the FSA announced that advisers will have to hold a statement of professional standing from 2013 to give independent verification that they are meeting new professional standards under the retail distribution review.

In July, Money Marketing revealed that many networks are considering applying for accreditation.

Goddard says networks that want to offer verification services must be leaders in professional standards.

She says: “If they meet the criteria, then they deserve to be there but it will depend on whether they are prepared to offer the same services that professional bodies offer and at what cost.

“There are benefits to belonging to a professional body as opposed to just a box-ticking CPD verification service.”

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Comments

There are 13 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. And the FSA is worried about advisers charging too much!
    It seems to me anyone, including the FSA, can charge advisers any amount they come up with, but advisers must be constantly reviewing their charges.
    The CII are as bad as the FSA in many respects.

  2. This does not surprise me, its just another way of getting a few bob out of the IFA community. I cannot visualise how they have come up with the costings unless they are paying the interviewers an arm and a leg.

  3. Sounds cynical but to quote the words of trusted colleague – this whole RDR exam qualification matter has just been turned into a money making racket by the CII!

    If I’ve passed my last exam in July I’m almost at Dip level thankfully. However I’m still waiting to see how passing these exams in anyway shape or form has added to my ability to give advice to clients. Financial Planning for clients is about having technical ability & experience. These exams will prove nothing!

    How many staff at the new regulator will be required to take these exams I wonder?!! and more to the point will these exams have any effect on the banks mis-selling their products to the public…

    Somehow I think NOT!!

  4. David Trenner - Intelligent Pensions 5th August 2010 at 2:22 pm

    I wonder how much you guys charge as an hourly rate? At £200 per hour a day costs £1,500.

    Of course you could always get a paraplanner to assess you for less. I bet you would be really confident in their assessment!!

    The CII uses qualified people – as indeed does the FSA – but what would you know about being qualified??

  5. It provides a choice for those that do not want to do exams. I apprecaite that it is an additional cost but the new RO exams require little human involvement on the new ‘ driving test theory centre’ multiple choice basis. (I was one of the first poor sods that they extracted money under false pretences and had to pay tuition fees so I know a bit having cash extracted for education!)

    Make you choice and pay your money you don’t have a lot of option but it doesn’t make it right.

    I’ve spent the money on exams but I’ve been studying for the last 6 years to get to Chartered Status doing an exam each year as it was apparent as a new entrant that the certificate level exams weren’t exactly hard and they would eventually upskill. Those who thought it wouldn’t happen have moaned and complained, you’ve had since 2006 and should have just got on with it. Thats life and its sometimes throws you a curve ball!

    Its not just the CII and the FSA Its society at the moment unfortunately, education mad!! – extraction of money on the promise of improvement. The most unfortunate thing is that they’ve yet to show a marked difference in standards but hopefully that will come eventually.

    With bad press the industry receives and little assistance to upskill or to get skilled in the first place its no wonder its dying on its knees.

    Will the last one out please switch out the light :o(

  6. Pricing themselves out of this market?

  7. The CII is responding to the needs of those existing advisers who would prefer not to have their knowledge fully tested via an examination either written or through multiple choice questions. The CII is the only professional body looking to offer advisers a genuine alternative to an examination. This is hugely challenging given that any alternative assessment must meet the exacting demands of the FSA and may explain why no one else has decided to try it.

    Our alternative assessment will be piloted with a group of advisers over the next few months.

    We can’t define a price yet because we need to understand what appetite there is for an alternative assessment amongst the adviser community. Clearly advisers can’t tell us that until they know what exactly is on offer and that can’t happen until we’ve established what advisers want (via a pilot). Even then we still need the FSA to approve whatever we create.

    One thing is clear we are working very closely with advisers to try balance their needs with those of the regulator.

    Other sectors do take a similar approach to alternative assessments and where these exist the cost is around the £1500/£2000 mark.

    In offering a rough idea of cost we’ve tried to be as up front as possible, making it clear to advisers that the costs of delivering one to one assessments is likely to be significantly more than an examination route.

    Our thinking on price has also been informed by our need to source, train and equip a UK wide network of capable individuals. Amongst other things they will need to have a suitable level of logistical support and a robust governance process will also need to be developed to ensure all candidates are treated fairly. All of this means the costs of delivering an alternative assessment is significantly greater than an exam.

    We believe those advisers who struggle with exams should be provided with an alternative to examinations and we are working with practitioners from across the market to try and create something that meets this need. Those advisers who think we are doing this to increase our revenue are wrong. We are a not for profit professional body and any surplus we make is reinvested for the benefit of ours members. This approach is what allows us to develop things like an alternative assessment.

    David Ross
    Chartered Insurance Institute

  8. Everyone is making money from the RDR.
    The FSA have always been a job creation quango, ever on the lookout as to what they can come up with next to make money for their buddies whilst justifying their existance at the same time.
    We are in the middle of the worst recession in our lifetime yet we must find more and more money to feed this greedy pig of a regulator.
    Even then”The Leviathan” will never be satisfied

  9. David

    Your comment at 2:22pm seems to confuse qualifications with competence. In a previous life I used to work for the FSA in monitoring and we never used to see a correlation between competence and qualifications when we visited firms.

    CII exams only test the ability to recall large amounts of basic information. Only an idiot would confuse this with being able to advise a client properly. The CII are just acting in a similarly parasitic manner to the FSA – sucking the lifeblood out of IFAs!

    I note from your website that you were a CII examiner. I don’t suppose that your comments were motivated by a desire to jump on the CII gravy train as an assessor.

  10. David Trenner - Intelligent Pensions 6th August 2010 at 9:30 am

    Anonymous 0.22 (That name seems to ring a bell with me!)

    Do you really think I have the time to assess for the CII at a rate that is less than a quarter of my hourly charging rate?

    Incidentally, why did you end your previous life if working for the FSA is such a cushy overpaid career?

  11. Anon,

    I am not and never have been a CII examiner.

    The type of knowledge needed to pass CII exams differs depending upon the level at which you study. This would be similar to other formal qualifications; at GSCE you are tested on what you know whilst at degree level you are tested on how you would apply that knowledge. Given that we operate under the QCF our examinations have a similar consistent approach. It is wirth pointing out that the new RDR compliant Regulated Diploma in Financial Planning was created to meet a very clearly defined FSA specification. It tests exactly what the FSA want tested and to a standard that they have requested. I would also reiterate that within this framework your colleagues and peers wrote the questions that you are tested on.

    With regards to your comments around the correlation between competancy and qualifications I can only say that your former employers at the FSA see a link consequently demand that advisers attain what currently amounts to an A level in financial planning.

    If this sector expects to be viewed by the public in the same way as doctors or lawyers then professional qualifications have a part to play in reassuring consumers. I would not go so far as to say that qualifications in isolation are a measure of a good adviser; consumers expect an adherance to a code of ethics, a commitment to CPD and a robust and credible regulatory regime.

    Why encouraging advisers to become more professsional should be thought of as parasitic is lost on me. The CII exists to serve the public and the public has scant regard for a financial services sector that has consistently failed to meet their expectations over the last 30 years. I make no apology for wanting to change that.

    David Ross
    Chartered Insurance Institute

  12. David T

    Yes – if you are spending time flicking through the message boards at 9:30am I think you probably do have time to do some work for the CII. Unless of course you were doing it on a client’s time.

    The reason I left the FSA was that I realised it was easier to make money out of people like you.

    David R

    The comment (0:22am) was not aimed at you. I would assume that the the CII standards you refer to do not cover a GCSE or A level standard of English from the wording of your reply.

    At least now the reason for the high CII fees is apparent, as members are paying for you to surf the web at 10:00am (although as you say, the CII exists to serve the public, rather than it’s members).

    If the CII exists to serve the public, then how can you be in any position to the respresent the views of the sector and say it wishes to be viewed as more professional. Surely those that wish to do exams should be free to do so, but those who are in the industry but do not wish to do so should have the choice. Educating the public to make an informed choice of adviser on this basis is surely a cheaper way forwards (although makes the CII less money).

  13. Anon,

    I think its a bit unfair to criticise me for responding to comments posted on a website, particularly when my input is simply to offer clarity to those persons posting or reading the posts. This I feel is preferable to not addressing the concerns of advisers who choose this route to communicate. Surely a willingness to discuss and debate these matters is part of the role of your professional body and I make no apology for doing so.

    In terms of our responsibilty to the public I can say that consumers expect an appropriate level of professionalism from those who provide them with financial advice. This expectation is based on credible research by the CII and many others and I would guess is the reason for the FSA’s decision to implement the RDR.

    Those practioners who fell likewise make up our membership, which currently stands at over 95,000 (including 26,000 PFS Members) so with some confidence I can state that there is a groundswell of opinion amongst advisers that professionalism is necessary to retain consumer confidence. Our commitment to improving standards of technical competance and ethicial behaviour is representitive of our members.

    The decision of the FSA to set a minimum level of qualification for financial advisers is in keeping with other professions, albeit the benchmark for advisers is clearly significantly lower than that of lawyers or doctors.

    David Ross
    CII

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