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FSA move to axe designations in exams overhaul

The FSA has unveiled proposals to replace designatory letters, introduce limited retesting, toughen entrance exams and back a single accreditation scheme in the long-awaited paper on IFA qualifications.

The news comes as head of industry training David Jackman has provoked a row with IFAs by agreeing with Ron Sandler that IFAs&#39 investment knowledge is not up to scratch and suggesting that many advisers are not viewed as professionals.

Jackman told Money Marketing this week that the only IFAs who are professionals are “Imro-authorised, upmarket, fee-based” advisers.

He agreed with Sandler&#39s comment, made in his July consultation paper, that IFAs lack sufficient investment knowledge.

The examination review discussion paper proposes a more rigorous series of exams for new entrants and yearly or biannual tests for practising IFAs in areas in which they have not carried out business for a while, if they have expanded into new areas and for new products such as stakeholder.

Jackman wants to see an end to the alphabet soup of letters because he believes they confuse consumers.

He suggests the letters could be replaced by a statement that an adviser is an FSAauthorised IFA and may allow advisers to put their speciality in brackets.

Jackman wants one accreditation mark and says while the LIA accreditation scheme, announced last month, is on the table, other bodies should come forward with proposals.

LIA director of public affairs John Ellis says: “We are very concerned about the designations. I am not sure that the FSA has the power to remove designatory letters from people. It would be a recipe for chaos to invite others to come forward with accreditation schemes.”

IFA Pensions & Investment Management principal Phil Moore says: “The assertion that only the Imro guys are professional is complete nonsense. To say that other IFAs are not professional is pretty insulting.”

Jackman interview, p15

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