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Making the most of adviser CPD

Lessons to be learntIt is mandatory for advisers who cover investment to complete at least 35 hours of continuing professional development a year. However, there’s more to CPD than doing it because you have to. It can help advisers identify gaps in their skills and knowledge which ultimately benefit their clients and their businesses. So how can advisers make the most of CPD?

New Model Business Academy managing director Tom Hegarty points out that at least 21 hours of CPD must be structured.

He says: “Structured CPD has clear learning objectives at the outset and the content is predetermined, with specific outcomes. Unstructured CPD has no specific learning objective at the start – it could be a discussion that is helpful with individual development or the development of the business.”

In an ideal world, Hegarty says CPD events would be tailored towards the individual to fill their personal knowledge and skill gaps. However, he says doing this for 23,000 advisers, as well as paraplanners, would be too difficult.

He says: “We will see more bespoke elements online but people attend CPD events because they also want to network and share ideas and best practice. From an adviser’s viewpoint if you go along to events, really try and engage. Put all the distractions aside; don’t check your emails. Some people do get distracted during presentations and that doesn’t help them develop and learn.”

Adviser view: Siobhan Thomas, director, Seer Green

I think it’s important to be selective on which CPD events I attend. I try to prioritise events which interest me and balance this with any knowledge gaps I feel I have. There are some events I always try to attend as I know the content and delivery will be useful and engaging.

Using an interesting or complex client situation is a great way of enhancing knowledge, especially with changes in legislation which are so frequent in our industry. I find using real examples a really good way of harnessing new knowledge.

We have a CPD session at our monthly meetings which is additional to our own individual activity. We cover a broad spectrum of topics and it gives us the chance to discuss topics which may not be our day-to-day specialism.

Head of the Financial Adviser School Darren Smith believes advisers can get the most out of CPD by being proactive rather than reactive and being honest with themselves about how much of their total hours of CPD have been meaningful.

He says: “What we’re trying to say is don’t think of CPD as something where you tick-box the number of hours. Advisers should be thinking about how it will enhance how they give advice to clients. You can identify a raft of areas where you could do with more knowledge and make a note at the end of the CPD year of the things that should be beneficial.”

Catriona Standingford: Where is the value in CPD?

Smith observes that some things, like swotting up on the implications of the Budget, can almost be planned for in advance. Others will only become apparent to advisers over time. “For example, some advisers might come across more clients who are concerned about long-term care. Don’t wait to react; start to pick up that pattern and look for the content that will make your CPD meaningful,” he says.

Smith says there is still value in attending events that are less relevant. “But let’s not fool ourselves. If the whole event is eight hours of CPD, record the eight hours but be true to yourself that you only did two hours,” he says. “Go out and find the content that will be useful. If you put a lot into it you get a lot out of it, but if you have a negative mindset because you have to do it, that’s not going to be good CPD.”

Adviser view: Andy Coles, independent financial adviser, Beaufort Financial (Reading)

CPD is more than facts and figures but it’s hard to get it right because there is such a wide choice of events. We have a lot of fund houses wanting us to go to CPD events but they are not relevant to us because we have our own in-house discretionary team. It would be easy to go just to tick a box and have a day out in London but that is not going to be any good for me. 

There will be a lot of CPD around the upcoming Budget – how do the changes affect pensions. That’s easy CPD – I have to know the new pension rules for tapering of the annual allowance.

There’s also CPD on a wider scale; what areas you need to be proactive in. This year I’ve become an associate member of the Society of Later Life Advisers. I have had CPD sessions with them and I take my long-term care exam in a couple of weeks. I have also joined NextGen Planners and can see myself using it a lot and getting feedback from other advisers.

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