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Educating IFA

We are all aware that these are unprecedented times, with the current state of flux in the markets leaving no shortage of news stories and column inches on the matter.

IFAs will certainly be no strangers to the issues as they work hard to ensure they have a clear understanding of the impact of the market volatility while navigating their way through the myriad of products and services available and ultimately provide the best advice possible to their clients. A time-consuming challenge at the best of times.

IFAs are, of course, legally obliged to ensure that they are adequately trained and appropriately qualified.

Regulatory demands enforce stringent rules on the competency and knowledge of IFAs, squeezing the time available for the IFA to focus on advising and building business.

However, the onus for ensuring IFAs’ continuing development is not simply on IFAs themselves. Providers have become increasingly aware of the role they must play and understand they too have a responsibility to support advisers in their educational and competency advancement.

One approach adopted by providers is the provision of educational tools to the IFA marketplace.

These are not simply brand-raising exercises or a quick fix in the hope of a quick payback. Rather, these tools are increasingly becoming a vital component in a successful IFA/provider relationship.

A company must position itself as not just a provider of products but also as a provider of solutions. However, it is imperative that these tools add real value and are not simply empty marketing exercises.

Providers must appreciate and understand how an IFA operates – the workload, the time constraints, the market conditions, and the demands from clients, regulator and staff. The new breed of educational tools must address the needs of now and be accessible in a flexible and meaningful way.

By ensuring the continual development and enhancement of offerings, providers can play a significant role in fulfilling their part of the deal.

Swip has worked at length with IFAs, trustees and the Chartered Insurance Institute to ensure that its newly launched Intelligence Centre provides not just learning modules covering all manner of investment topics but that it is flexible, current and accredited by the CII inline with their own qualification modules. Swip has invested considerable time and effort developing a tool that we hope genuinely adds value for IFAs.

Companies such as Swip must aim to be an IFA business partner, not just a product provider. That is the key to building enduring and meaningful business relationships that not only benefit both IFA and provider but also the client.

Tony Maddock is head of retail sales at Swip

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