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FSA will have ‘zero-tolerance’ RDR exam stance

Rory Percival FSA

The FSA says it will have a “zero-tolerance” policy towards advisers who have not attained a QCF level four qualification by the RDR deadline.

Speaking to Money Marketing, FSA technical specialist Rory Percival says the regulator will offer no flexibility for advisers who have not achieved the minimum qualification requirements on 1 January.

Percival (pictured) says: “People getting their qualifications is a zero-tolerance policy area. If you do not have all of your relevant qualifications by the start of 2013 then you will be required to send in your deauthorisation form.”

FSA figures published in April showed around 71 per cent of advisers had completed their qualifications, with around 22 per cent still studying.

The Chartered Insurance Institute and ifs School of Finance say they do not have estimates for advisers who are studying but may not meet the deadline.

Aifa says around 80 advisers who have signed up to its case-study based exam have not yet booked an exam slot.

In September, FCA chief executive designate Martin Wheatley pledged to stick to the RDR deadline of 1 January, but added the regulator will be “proportionate” in its supervision of advisers.

Percival says the regulator will take a softer stance on firms that are taking time to get their business models right.

He says: “We will be more flexible in terms of how firms set their charges. That is something which could take a couple of attempts to get right, although we will take action if there is consumer detriment.”

Aifa policy director Chris Hannant says: “The FSA should show forbearance for advisers who are a long way down the qualifications track.

“Although they should not be giving advice, it seems excessive to deauthorise an adviser who has one exam left to sit in January or February only for them to have to go through the lengthy authorisation process two months later.”

Last month, the FSA said it had granted 18 waivers to miss the qualification deadline by 12 months mainly because of spousal bereavement, the ill health of an adviser of ill health of a spouse or child where the adviser has acted as carer. It said it had received 47 applications for a delay with six currently under consideration, 21 already withdrawn and two rejected.


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There are 33 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. I wonder if Rory Percival is RDR qualified, perhaps Money Marketing can find out?

  2. It’s only been coming for a couple years, not like anyone knew about the exams is it? Oh…wait..

  3. ken170647 youtube 25th October 2012 at 9:23 am

    It would be helpful if the qualifications of those selected to boss the regulation of the industry were public knowledge. Perhaps Money Marketing could find out this relevant information?

  4. Yet another hard man from the FSA !

  5. Let’s be brutally honest about this, if you are supposed to know what you are talking about, the exams themselves are not that difficult – it is just a question of getting organised and getting on with it. Therefore whilst I do have some sympathy for those who might just miss the deadline, as Anonymous has already said, we have had a wee bit of warning that the deadline was heading our way! Unfortunately, it would seem that too many have just stuck their head in the sand and hoped it would go away. It is pointless to argue that the Regulator should also be qualified when no formal qualifications are even required to be Prime Minister yet, to date, I have passed some 19 exams in my 35 years in this industry!

  6. Nick @ 8:45 – exactly.

    Can MM publish Mr Percival’s qualifications please. If he has anything less than the Diploma I would imagine that his position would become untenable.

    In fact, can we have the qualifications listed for all the FSA top bods. I imagine a very interesting and informative article and some very red FSA faces.

    No doubt a FOI request will be required. They won’t let gold like this out without a fight!

  7. Nicholas Pleasure 25th October 2012 at 10:10 am

    DP | 25 Oct 2012 9:53 am

    I disagree completely. Prime Minister is a ‘jack of all trades’ oversight role. There is no exam that could prepare anyone for that job. It is also occupied by someone for whom the people he has power over has voted.

    Compare that with the quangocrats that occupy the regulator. We have no choice – they haven’t proved to be any good but we can’t get rid of them. It has been abundantly clear that their lack of understanding of financial services has been the cause of many many problems.

    They should at least be as well qualified as those to which they subject their regulation. I would argue that they should hold level 6 because of the specialism of their role.

    (PS I’m not saying that IFA’s shouldn’t have done their exams – just that those in power should also hold a similar level of qualification in the subject)

  8. The last hurrah of a “dead” regulator?

    I have zero tolerance for its institutional incompetence, its own deadline missing no that it does me any good.

    It is less important to me that the regulator has adviser exams (few of which are directly relevant to regulation) far more that the individuals are competent to regulate and based on what we see – they are clearly not.

    Which is why of course they are being replaced.

  9. No qualification equals no authorisation equals no advice – simple and no argument.

    Maybe MM should insist that all contributors to Readers Comments are suitably qualified and anyone not there yet would be better off studying rather than writing such drivel.

  10. ken170647 youtube 25th October 2012 at 10:55 am

    Look what happens when the spotlight is turned on the people at the top. Look at Patten, Entwistle, Thompson. They were the only people at the BBC who hadn’t heard the Savile rumours. So they are either useless at their jobs, or they are lying. All bosses of all regulators and public corporations should have their CVs accessible online.

  11. Lets be clear hear !!

    Rory Percivil has no fear in the statements or decisions he makes, therefore he could care less about the problems IFA’s or anyone in the financial services have (and I include the many valuable support staff)

    He is, and will not be fighting for his job or livelyhood.

    I just wonder how he and his fellow inmates would fair if they had the same thrust on them ? Make them pay for their education and training and make them do it in their own time all this whilst trying to make a living in a credit crunch.

    The only fear this mumpty has is making the right choice as to which gold plated job to accept in a few years time.

  12. We have had years to get these exams and although I feel sorry for the individuals who have not attained the qualifications we have to draw a line somewhere.

    I hope the FSA will also crack down not only on people that should be de authorised because they haven’t obtained the relevent exams, but also on organisations and individuals operating without proper authorisation. If I have evidence of any organisation operating without registration I will be reporting them and that includes large brands that continue to break regulations laid down to protect consumers. I find it odd that we have a well known individual who continues to comment on regulated products and act as a consumer champion but doesn’t hold the authorisation levels. Maybe the FSA would like to do something for a change about this well known celeb in financial services, I think we all know who he is.

  13. I wonder ! Mr Percival seems to have taken over the role of Mr Sants as hard man of the FSA. Being afraid seems to be the regulators constant requirement to be allowed to work in our industry now, if you are not afraid now, we will make you so.

    Has anyone thought to challenge the regulators stance on this, it seems to be counter productive, if an adviser has to apply to be de-authorised if they do not achieve level 4 by the cliff edge, what happens to his clients and his business, is he then effectively being made redundant by the FSA and entitled to redundancy pay and wages in lieu of notice. One would assume that applying oneself to be de-authorised gets them off the hook.

    I have never heard of this guy until now, but the departure of Mr Sants and his be afraid attitude, does not seem to have imbued the regulator with any humanity.

    Despite government protestations that we have come out of recession the majority of the working population know that in the real world, most businesses and individuals are struggling to pay their way.

    It’s a poor do if even the Parliamentary TSC cannot tell the regulator to delay the implementation of this ill conceived and badly planned draconian change to our industry.

    This industry is the engine of recovery for the country, advising consumers to invest and save their money into financial plans is the cornerstone of money being put into the capital markets, anyone who has bought a unit trust, isa, bond etc is investing in some part into the stock market, why does this regulator seem hell bent on ruining the most productive and least complained about sector of the industry and why is it deemed sensible and prudent to implement such draconian changes in such a hurry.

    Marry in haste, repent at liesure !

    We will as a country suffer for this inhuman, dictatorial and unaccountable regulator and our economy will be the loser.

    For the majority of the current retail consumers of financial products, level 3 is perfectly adequate, but level 4 should be achieved if only to gain a better understanding of what we do, but putting advisers out of business in such an inhuman manner is no way to ensure a successful and vibrant financial industry.

    Until a car drives over the cliff edge it is never too late to put on the brakes, but once it goes over, we drop into the void of the unknown and no amount of retrospective analysis of what is going to inevitably go wrong will rescue the passengers of the car, nor will it assist consumers.

  14. And so they should ! We have had at least 3-4 years notice of this rubbish and many of us have worked hard and spent considreable amounts of money to get these pointless qualifications which will add nothing to the public experience. Any adviser that has worked hard to get these would be very angry to see advisers that couldn’t be bothered let off the hook,

  15. This emotive language “zero tolerance” reminds me of a third world police state mentality. Who do they think they are and more importantly who do they think we are?

  16. We have known for the last 4 years that the exams were a requirement to practice after December 2012. I got up off my fat a**e and I sat the diploma in 2010 – then completed the gap fill this year.
    I have no simpathy for those lazy barstewards who ignore what they need to do.
    As far as the Lord Snoopy’s that head the FSA, we IFA’s will not receive any softening of there atttude to the RDR.
    Aifa can hardly comment with any accuracy on the situation as they represent a small % of IFA. They have proved to be impotent in there discussions with the FSA over the last few years.

  17. It’s not that the exams were difficult it was purely an organisational issue. Sadly the exams won’t make better advisers. Also you had to learn the CII version of the “correct” answer even though you may consider it to be inappropriate in the real world.
    Many of the advisers I met on courses were great accademics, but poor listeners, charmless, lacked balanced thinking, or understanding of client psycology.
    Fully qualified crap advisers.

  18. Alasdair MacDougall 25th October 2012 at 1:30 pm

    I have checked the FSA Register and there is no Rory Percival on the Register.

  19. I respect both sides. Unfortunately, due to illness of myself and my wife including depression have not achieved level 4 because due to the above as soon as I enter the exam room, I get the shakes and lose all perception of the exam, so I blow it. As soon as I am in front of my clients again and back at the office I am fine. Despite being 66 I am determined to crack it, but unfortunately not by 31/12/2012 then go through the rigmarole of getting re-authorised, so those that keep rabitting on about those that have not achieved level 4 are lazy baxxxxxds, give it a rest. Not everyone is but due to their own personal circumstances have not managed to crack it.

  20. @ Alasdair MacDougall | 25 Oct 2012 1:30 pm

    Yes there is but he is inactive.

    IRN – RMP00009.

  21. Anonymous | 25 Oct 2012 1:46 pm

    Have you tried the FSA’s waiver process?

  22. Anon at 1.46 I am sorry to hear your plight. It may be too late to change direction, but the IFS route seems much more appropriate to our world.

  23. We always get the “I’m all right, I’ve got Level 4” when these discussions, they make me sick!

  24. Anon @ 1.46 good luck mate. Hope you get there in the end.
    Anon @ 3.36 Well said. Due to difficulties/commitments at home I am just about able to keep my head above water.

  25. If you are likely to miss the deadline by say a month, what’s wrong with getting your locum in for that period? There is a qualified person in charge of advice and in a way, it’s no different from an adviser being sick.

    Whilst we all have to accept that the regulator has to regulate, wouldn’t they command a lot of respect if they were proportionate, accountable, qualified, sensible, effective and did things in the general spirit of mutual co-operation? Frankly, I’d have sacked on the spot anyone whose opening public statement was “shoot first, ask questions later” or “be very afraid.”

  26. I hope this will be tested in court.

  27. Dr Peter Williams 26th October 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Several have asked about Rory Percival’s qualifications. I doubt that he will respond (the FSA seldom responds to such requests) but I can tell you that he is a highly competent individual and former IFA. I first met/worked with him when he was the compliance Director for a high profile IFA firm. He is an ACII and a Chartered Financial Planner (ie Level 6). Personally I think the FSA are lucky to have him and we should be pleased that they employ such high calibre people. Peter

  28. I am glad they have granted ‘hardship’ waivers. Never thought they would so its a bonus.

    Find myself more f%&£ing exasperated by the whole RDR scenario.

    Invest £5k into a stocks and shares ISA – QCF level 4. Protection advice which is important – no min quals and unregulated!

    ‘Top of the market’ manufacturer and distributor – pre RDR and Post RDR – nil change!

    There is no level playing field even though the principles are right re transparency of all costs.

  29. The deadline for those that need to complete the diploma with the CII and need the written R06 paper is a bit sooner as the last exam scheduled this year is 26 November. Many test centres are already full up.

  30. I believe that the FSA should have a website where it is possible for members of the public to view the qualifications of advisers – in particular whether an adviser is simply qualified to the minimum level or Chartered. I am now seeing websites where there is a deliberate aim to mislead the public. In particular, some IFA websites have a page which talks about Diplomas, Advanced Diplomas and Chartered planners, giving the impression that some advisers at the firm has reached Chartered status when the truth is that no-one has. Many firms are also shouting that their advisers are Diploma qualified despite it meaning nothing (since they will be the same as everyone else from January).

  31. Like all exams they are easy for those that have passed them and as you get older your memory is not as good.
    I am currently going down the IFS route have passed FSRE and the assignment but finding it difficult to remember a 22 page suitability report and type it out in 3hrs. Not a real life scenario.
    I still have a mortgage ( had to remortgage due to divorce pay out) and household bills to pay have no chance of getting another job at my age.
    I am sure that I am not alone more unemployment but despite TSC requesting they give it another 12 months Percival has spoken.

  32. Thanks for the support regarding my difficulty in completing by 31st December, including the one about using my locum. I am not quite sure that those that are struggling to pass by 31/12/2012 will be taken off the FSA register and then have to re-apply again, including the FSA completing a fresh due diligence procedure, so it could take months to get re-authorised.(This is as I understand it)

  33. Voice of the Voyager 7th November 2012 at 9:39 am

    He might be a CFP but has he actually done the job he is supposedly regulating, or is he an armchair general who knows everything on strategy but never been a member of the ‘frontline club’. I will have respect for such people when they can show they have dealt with the public on the brutal side of this industry, in handling claims and how our advice impacts on the future of a family.

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