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FSA hands over exam role to skills council

The FSA is tearing the pages out of its handbook which list approved exams, leaving it to the Financial Services Skills Council to decide which exams are appropriate.

The action comes with the publication of CP194, Amendments to the Training and Competence Sourcebook, and sees the regulator distance itself further from overseeing IFAs&#39 competence. It is largely handing over responsibility for T&C to the skills council, fronted by former FSA exam guru David Jackman.

It is dropping the requirement that advisers must pass an approved exam, saying it will be satisfied with those that are considered appropriate. Firms will be able to look to the council for guidance or rely on their own assessment of their needs and their clients&#39 needs to decide what exams they should take.

The FSA paper confirms there will be exams for those advising on mortgages and equity release, although people who have met the MCCB&#39s competence requirements will not have to take a new exam.

The industry has been aware that the regulator wants to take a more relaxed view on how IFAs&#39 maintain competence, placing more responsibility on firms to ensure advisers are knowledgeable. Last week&#39s CP confirms a move in this direction.

FSA head of industry training and themes Chris Rexworthy says: “This fits with our wider approach to regulation, in encouraging firms and senior management to make more decisions for themselves on the right controls for their business.”

Sofa managing director Brian Lawless says: “This is another step towards forcing senior management to be more responsible for compliance. I would agree as a broad principle. There is still a way to go until consumers are going to be comfortable with firms not being scrutinised by the regulator.”

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