The new qualification from Aifa seems like the option I have been waiting for. Should I start now or is there any reason to wait?
As the exam is yet to be submitted to Financial Services Skills Council, far less OFQUAL, you may be waiting for some time. This exam is offered by the Scottish Institute of Bankers and its alignment to IFA practices is as yet unknown. Call me old fashioned but I prefer to focus on what is there rather than what is simply promised.
It is important to compare what is on offer carefully to ensure you are doing so on a like for like basis. There are no shortcuts and, in particular, it is worth checking the actual study requirements and credits and also if the exams have been fully reviewed and agreed by the relevant bodies. You should certainly do this before you commit yourself.
The recent platform paper indicated that I might need two to three platforms and still use off-platform products too? What do you think?
If your client acquisition strategy is to refuse no one and pursue anyone, then a single platform is likely to be a no go area, I would suggest that you need to segment your clients then align them to an appropriate platform.
Segmentation is key and the FSA has made its position clear in discussion paper 10/2. One platform is only likely to be suitable if, having segmented your clients, they would demonstrably benefit from being placed on a platform and they all have similar needs and requirements.
This suitability issue makes me want to go restricted. Have I missed something?
Suitability is for everyone with the exception of basic advice. This means if your product range is restricted, you will be expected to pass on clients where your products are less than suitable. This means no shoehorning clients into what suits you and not them. Take a client-centric view and you should not go far wrong.
I suggest you need to base any decision whether or not to go restricted as opposed to independent on your proposition and what you want to provide to clients based on their needs. As Rob says, suitability will apply to both restricted and independent advisers, as is confirmed in policy statement 10/6.