It takes a lot to be an IFA. Even after qualifying, there is regulatory
pressure to demonstrate professional competence continuously.
FSA head of industry training David Jackman, says: “One exam taken at the
outset of a career does not guarantee competence through a person's working
life, hence, CPD needs to be prominent.”
How does an IFA keep up with new products and their uses, new legislation,
complete never-ending paperwork, update and memorise client records, be
ever adept at change but also comfortable and confident among this constant
bombardment of new information and demand for learning?
There can be no doubt that the market of tomorrow offers huge
opportunities to those who invest in themselves and their businesses,
establishing themselves as effective, profitable players.
Business has never been better. In fact, it is going from strength to
strength. The latest figures from IFA Promotion (May 2000), which combine
statistics from a variety of sources, show sales of life and pension
products, Peps, Oeics and unit trusts through IFAs are consistently higher
than through any other sales channel. Sales through IFAs were more than
double those recorded in 1994.
At present, there are more people wanting quality independent financial
advice than there are people to supply it.
Pick up any of the trade papers and look at the number of firms looking
for qualified and experienced IFAs to service existing client banks as
proof of this.
But are you facing a training dilemma?
It is well recognised that the financial services marketplace is moving
forward atan incredible pace, drivenby technological change,Government
legislation and new products.
This has inevitably led toa plethora of training oppor-tunities. But with
so many demands on an IFA's time, which should you choose?
The FSA has already made noises that it wants to drop the guidance that
IFAs should carry out a minimum of 50 hours continuing professional
development a year.
Proposals have been published for CPD to be taken on its merits, rather
than the need to clock up the req-uired hours.
Jackman says: “I want to challenge the industry. Do you need to be told
exactly what to do and for how many hours? Or can you act responsibly and
professionally by deciding for yourselves?”
Clearly, the need to have highly qualified, well trained advisers is more
important than ever before.
It is widely mooted thatthe Advanced Financial Planning Certificate will
shortly be established as the benchmark qualification.
Allied to this, clients' needs are changing, along with their awareness
and understanding of financial products. Apart from traditional sources,
clients can now research and buy products via the internet or at their
How should you assess your business skills?
To address these training issues and place the emphasis on the outcome of
a programme, such as growing your own business successfully, expanding your
personal potential and devel- oping the capabilities of your staff, we have
developed a business skills profile.
It is a simple concept, introduced to help our network members define
areas of personal and business development requirements but you can adapt
the idea for your own purposes.
It involves putting together a checklist of market areas and business
topics, such as business planning and making effective client
presentations, examination needs, and then asking yourself the relevant
combination of the four questions shown in the box above.
Among the market areas included on the DBS checklist is the following.
State provision and developing personal pension opportunities;
employer-sponsored opportunities and retirement opportunities;
comprehensive mortgage advice is included together with investment planning
and protection, both individual protection and corporate and estate
This model is a guide to help IFAs get the most out of their training plans.
Once knowledge and skills gaps are identified, a training plan to deliver
results for your business can be developed.
If we plan for what we are aiming to achieve, then we can review each
training opportunity objectively against needs or, in the words of the
regulator, on merit.
The issues of training are crucial as we continuously strive to raise
professional standards and build our profile as a sector worthy of
professional recognition and respect.
Q1: Is this a market that I am currently involved in?
Q2: Is this a market area I would like to develop into during the next 12
Q3: Do I consider that my knowledge and skills could be enhanced?
Q4: Do I need support in developing my marketing skills in this area?