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Maq to the future

The desire to raise standards and enhance the level of protection offered to customers has prompted the Mortgage Code Compliance Board to require all registered mortgage advisers to obtain an approved professional mortgage qualification by December 31, 2002.

In response, the Chartered Insurance Institute has introduced the Mortgage Advice Qualification. The MCCB has indicated that the combination of Maq and the CII&#39s Financial Planning Certificate will satisfy its requirements.

Maq has been designed to provide a rigorous, thorough test of knowledge. Developed by professionals with wide market experience, it is strictly relevant to the work advisers undertake every day. This means that, while it remains a searching exam, it should not present major difficulties to advisers who are prepared to undertake the necessary study.

Importantly, the combination of Maq and the FPC serves as a half-credit towards the CII&#39s Advanced Financial Planning Certificate, which is an ideal qualification for advisers who want to embrace and demonstrate high standards of professionalism across the broad spectrum of financial planning.

Holders of the AFPC are entitled to join Sofa, the financial services arm of the CII.

Candidates are advised to allow at least 60 hours of study for Maq. The exam consists of a single three-hour paper, split into two parts.

The first part comprises 50 multiple-choice questions while the second contains two case studies, one covering the setting up of new mortgage arrangements and the other covering the servicing of existing mortgages, including remortgages, further advances and buying an owner out of a property.

To assist Maq candidates, the CII has produced a comprehensive range of support materials and revision aids. The coursebook includes a detailed exam syllabus outlining the subject areas that may be tested in the exam and breaks down the syllabus into concise sections, with each chapter containing clearly defined learning objectives and self-test questions.

Also available are Maq fact cards. These summarise key information contained in the coursebook and are ideal for studying while travelling to and from work or in situations where using the coursebook is impractical.

Candidates can also use the internet to study, thanks to the CII&#39s new online education and training service, available at www.ed.cii.co.uk. This offers an interactive tutorial called mortgage pass-plan learning, which covers the syllabus in depth. It is backed by a range of tools designed to improve the learning experience, including online coursebooks, course-tracking, a personal study planner and student bulletin boards. The CII is offering discounts on this service, where individuals will save £60 and corporate buyers £70 on the standard price of £110.

The CII also offers one-day revision courses designed to sharpen candidates&#39 knowledge in the run-up to the exam. These give tips on useful revision and exam techniques, practice questions, the opportunity to clarify areas of concern, chapter summaries for revision purposes and an outline of common mistakes.

Clearly, given the MCCB deadline of the end of this year, there is significant and growing demand for Maq revision courses and exam sittings. Accordingly, the CII has scheduled an increased number of each throughout the autumn. Full details of these dates and further information on all aspects of Maq study and revision, including ed., are available at www.cii.co.uk.

It seems certain that the amount and scope of regulation will increase. Already, market sectors formerly outside the mandatory regulatory regime, including mortgages and general insurance, are developing voluntary arrangements.

Individuals from all corners of the financial services market must remain aware of the requirements placed on them in terms of qualifications and the maintenance of knowledge and competence. As far as the mortgage industry is concerned, the MCCB requirements represent a universal benchmark. With all advisers holding an appropriate combination of qualifications, such as FPC and Maq, customer confidence can only be enhanced, to the benefit of the whole market.

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