Networks are considering using a non-authorised set-up to apply for FSA accreditation to award statements of professional standing to advisers.
The FSA will accredit bodies to award the statements and does not expect an FSA-authorised firm whose “commercial activities would compromise its independence for the purposes of its verification activities” to meet its criteria. This has led to speculation that support services firms which are not FSA-authorised would be eligible to apply for authorisation but networks would not.
Sesame and Openwork are considering applying for accreditation through a non-authorised structure. Openwork programme director Phil Mogford says: “We believe the implied distinction between networks and service providers will not exist in practice in the future. The Openwork structure already includes a separate non-authorised service company that could be used to provide such services to Openwork members and other advisers.”
A Sesame spokesman says: “We already have Sesame Learning, which is a separate legal company we use to deliver training and development support.” Aifa says it will not look to gain accreditation initially “while the regulatory landscape remains so unclear”.
Advisers will be forced to get a statement of professional standing from 2012 to give independent verification that they are meeting new professional standards under the RDR.
The FSA’s RDR consultation paper on professionalism, published this week, says the regulator will accredit bodies to award the statements but membership of a professional body will not be mandatory.
The FSA estimates ongoing SPS costs of £60 to £175 per adviser but this is likely to be an overestimate for advisers who belong to professional bodies.
The FSA will take responsibility for policing professional standards rather than creating an independent board. It says a separate body would confuse consumers and lead to a duplication of responsibilities bet-ween the IPSB and the FSA.
The FSA says while it will not pass any regulatory responsibilities to accredited bodies, it expects them to use disciplinary measures, including withdrawing verification of SPS for failure to comply with the rules.
From 2013, advisers must complete a minimum of 35 hours of relevant continuing professional development each year, with at least 21 hours being structured learning.
Advisers without an RDR-compliant qualification will need to fill gaps in their learning with CPD and the regulator is consulting on whether this will need to be verified by an accredited body.