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Filling the gaps

New benchmark standard is set for advisers

Steve Aspinall
Steve Aspinall

Under the RDR, advisers need to be qualified to a new benchmark standard based on what the Skills Council and Financial Services Authority agreed in March. For this, advisers currently holding the current QCF qualification have to achieve a number of learning outcomes.

It is wrong to label what advisers must do as Continuing Professional Development. It is about filling gaps in existing qualifications to meet new RDR examination standards.

Our online Gap Fill tool helps members identify what gaps they must fill. For CII and PFS members this involves no extra cost or exams. The value of all previous qualifications remains, with only some additional knowledge added to plug gaps.

For example, several areas have never been covered in previous financial planning examinations. Ethics, behavioural finance and multifactor modelling are the most notable now required by RDR-compliant advisers. But what does this involve for the financial adviser?

Filling the gap could mean attending a road show, event or technical session on a relevant topic. Or it could mean a paragraph of reading, with no test. People will have already done a lot of learning activity without realising its value for filling gaps now.

As we are aware, feelings among some IFAs have been running high since the launch of our Qualification Gap Fill tool. But the concerns we have been hearing from the adviser community are in reality nothing to worry about. With a change to any system, there is always a risk the message is lost in translation. I’ll do my best here to clear up any misunderstanding. With 27 months to go before the FSA demands full compliance, there is time to do this. And the CII is providing the solution as early as is possible.

Our input into the working groups organised by the FSA and the Skills Council means that we understand the step change which the regulator wants and have been able to design a system that will help advisers get to where they need to be. In terms of the Gap Fill online system, it is a diagnostic tool showing the knowledge gaps between the CII exams held and the new FSA examination standards. The planning and recording facility enables members to maintain a full record of activity undertaken to ensure compliance with the new exam standards, while the solutions section provides a comprehensive range of free gap fill solutions to satisfy compliance obligations.

We have matched legacy qualifications against the new learning requirements and we are confident the calculation of each adviser’s learning gap is accurate.

For non-CII/PFS members who have any concerns, we can assure you that the crucial information which you need to know is in the public domain and compliance could be achieved via the CPD records held by your own membership organisation.

It is true that change is never easy, but it really should not be perceived as being painful in this context. Gap Fill is a straightforward and extremely simple tool to show your current position, while the activities that will be needed to plug the learning gaps are not very onerous.

Steve Aspinall is head of corporate development at the Chartered Insurance Institute

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