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Every industry wants to attract good quality people. Equally, good quality people want to work for industries with good reputations, not least among the customers they are trying to attract and keep. The fund industry is committed to maintaining high professional standards and the Investment Management Association is engaged in ensuring that the industry offers qualifications and training that are relevant to business needs.

This will become even more important later this year with the introduction of the FSA’s principles-based training and competence regime. The new training and competence sourcebook gives firms greater flexibility to determine how best to achieve the standards expected of them by the FSA and to do so consistently and cost-effectively.

The implication of the new regime for wholesale activities will mean that the existing obligation for many to pass an exam will disappear. This has, rightly or wrongly, led to a fear that there will be an accompanying drop in standards.

The IMA has taken the initiative and joined forces with the Securities and Investment Institute to launch an improved entrylevel qualification for employees new to the fund management industry.

The FSA has recognised the important role that trade associations have to play in this area and welcomed our partnership initiative with the SII as a good practical example of an employer-led initiative which will take up any slack left by the removal of the obligation to pass exams.

The new qualification is based on the SII’s introduction to investment foundation qualification. It has been designed to give new recruits to the fund management industry a broad understanding of investment and how the financial services market works. It offers new employees the opportunity to achieve an industry standard early on in their career, giving them confidence in their roles and acting as a springboard to more specialist qualifications.

Its content has been determined so that it is suitable for staff in a wide variety of roles from compliance and administration to fund management and support. It has been designed to be equally relevant for those working in the retail and wholesale/ institutional markets.

As well as existing as a stand-alone qualification, it will be still be stage one of the investment administration qualification, which has been the compulsory three-part qualification for those in supervisory roles.

From an employer’s perspective, it will allow them to demonstrate a commitment to training while the qualification will also act as a benchmark against which firms can check that their staff have a solid foundation from which to operate in a range of job functions.

The IMA intends to continue to work closely with the SII to ensure that all its qualifications, including the more specialist modules relevant to the fund management sector, are what employers need and want. Through this we hope to maintain the high professional standards in the investment management sector with qualifications which are recognised as relevant to business needs, meeting the ever changing needs of the industry and which will contribute to enhancing the reputation of the industry among its customers.

Mona Patel is head of communications at the Investment Management Association.

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