It was interesting to see my old colleagues at Aifa jumping on the qualification bandwagon – clearly there is not enough to do in the trade body area.
Seriously though, I was surprised and some members have questioned whether Aifa’s limited resources would not be better placed fighting the inequity of Financial Services Compensation Scheme levies and similar grievances affecting the IFA community.
I am all for choice but unsure whether Aifa members genuinely want another examination option, as opposed to grandfathering. I guess only time will tell when we see the level of take-up.
This new qualification still needs to be approved by the Financial Services Skills Council and the FSA, of course, so will be on a par with any other new qualification entering into the market, however it is assessed.
We are expecting the list of new appropriate qualifications to be published in June and the Chartered Insurance Institute’s new diploma in regulated financial planning is ready and waiting.
This new diploma has been designed by practitioners for practitioners and reflects feedback from members, students and advisers. The CII has listened and taken on board the comments and criticisms about the style and format of current exams but, like the Aifa offering, this does not mean they are easier – just different.
The new exam offers a flexible and innovative solution to the complexities of the current qualification regime. Flexible, because advisers are able to enter or sit an exam online on any working day and innovative as the new diploma incorporates multiple-choice questions and case histories. Most important is the extensive online and offline learning and study aids available to support you.
Even better, if you have already started the existing CII diploma, you can continue to complete this qualification but you will now also be able to choose not just from the range of J subjects but also from the new diploma units.
I have always liked the modular approach used by the CII as opposed to a fixed course, as each time you pass an exam it helps spur you on to the next and you know exactly where you are on your journey.
The Personal Finance Society will, of course, continue to help members attain their qualification but other aspects of the RDR should be ignored. Business-owners need to look hard at their model and consider how they can be sure of meeting the deadline for implementing the broader requirements.
The rules on adviser-charging are now finalised and will be challenging for some firms and less so for those who are already predominantly fee-based.
But all firms will need to get to grips with the rules pretty quickly and start thinking about how theywill implement them. If you do not know where to start, take a look at our website – under business transition workshops.
Fay Goddard is chief executive officer of the Personal Finance Society