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FSA looks at plan to assess advisers at work

The FSA is considering introducing on-site assessments of advisers’ competence as an alternative to exams under the retail distribution review, according to the Institute of Financial Planning.

IFP chief executive Nick Cann, who is a member of the RDR working group on qualifications, says the regulator is exploring if on-site assessments are workable and affordable.

He says: “The FSA is considering what the assessments might look like, what the programme would cost, who would carry out the assessments and what would happen if advisers don’t pass.

“I believe on-site assessments will be more costly than exams but if the FSA can find a workable solution, then we would support it. We have already acknowledged that people need to be tested on more than just knowledge.”

In November’s RDR feedback statement, the FSA said it would not allow grandfathering but would consider an alternative to exams. It said: “In the time available, the group did not consider on-the-job assessment for existing advisers as a potential alternative to the examination route. However, we acknowledge the volume of supporting feedback received on this point and are therefore maintaining the position we set out in the interim report, which is that we are open to any solution which provides a rigorous test of adviser competency.”

Highclere Financial Services partner Alan Lakey says on-site assessments would be a good alternative to exams as long as they are cost-effective and do not involve the creation of another regulatory body.

He says: “If those conditions are met, it would be an ideal way of testing competence for thousands of advisers who may otherwise be forced to leave the industry.”

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