Exams will be a fact of life for the next generation of advisers. There seems to be an increasing acceptance of the need for formal recognition of advisers’ professionalism, although there is still plenty of grumbling about the structure. While it is tempting to blame the CII for any shortcomings in the exams it must be remembered that it is largely IFAs that are structuring and reviewing these exams (see page 22). So advisers need to make sure they are directing their complaints to the right people or get involved themselves.
While some teething troubles are inevitable, there is a genuine commercial rationale behind taking exams. As this week’s adviser – Alex Morris of Financial Relationships – shows, exams can improve and update knowledge. Importantly, they can also give vital reassurance to other professionals who may refer clients. Garry Hale, who has agreed to write for us about his journey to chartered status, says his main motivation for taking further exams is the marketing of his business to clients and other professionals.
Professional connections remain something of a holy grail for many advisers with many still struggling to encourage the accountants and lawyers to whom they refer clients to return the favour. Both Morris and Steve Billingham of FP Advance emphasise the importance of qualifications as a key to unlocking the potential in professional connections.
There is plenty of help available for exams. I would not be doing my job if I didn’t give a small plug to the new Money Marketing Academy, to be run in partnership with the Chartered Insurance Institute. This will offer a range of study packages, including printed material, online and face-to-face training. It is being launched on March 22 at the CII Great Hall in Aldermanbury.
But, of course, professionalism is not just about exams and as part of this initiative the Money Marketing Academy will be bringing together training providers to help business and professional development. Aifa also has an initiative in this area, which is explored on page 10. Ultimately, taking exams and building a better business should not be two different things – each should facilitate the other.