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FSA waters down &#39alphabet soup&#39

The FSA is set to slash the “alphabet soup” of qualifications IFAs can use after their name following an investigation into industry exams.

Speaking at a conference last week, FSA chairman Sir Howard Davies said the regulator is investigating industry exams to cut back the number of letters after advisers&#39 names.

Davies said the current system is unwieldy, inconsistent and confusing and desig natory letters were overused, creating an “alphabet soup”.

The review will start in January 2001. The FSA hopes the process will lead to fewer but tougher exams and that consumer interest will no longer be damaged by poor staff training.

The Chartered Institute of Insurers welcomes the review, saying the alphabet soup Dav ies refers to must be severely curtailed, if not abolished.

The move could mean backoffice staff will also have to sit exams for the first time if the FSA recommendations are taken on board. But industry insiders are sceptical, claiming the practicalities of making back-office administrators take exams will be difficult.

FSA spokeswoman Jackie Blyth says: “It is unlikely we would ever be involved in setting exams or becoming an examination board ourselves but we will be heavily involved in what the exams cover.”

Sofa spokesman Robert Reid says: “We have always had a problem with using multiple letters for passing one exam. To the consumer, it appears the person is highly qualified when they have only passed a benchmark exam. But we would want a system introduced which recognises that people will be working and studying at the same time.”


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