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Role call

Now is the time to remain committed to the positive proposals that have been made in the FSA’s retail distribution review consultation paper.

It does not surprise me that certain quarters are already pushing to change or dilute its proposals. One sniff of a statement that a different government will abolish the FSA leads to calls to abandon the RDR. The banks apparently want to have a lesser qualification than everybody else. The proposals are good, the timeframe extremely challenging for many and the regulation will improve the sector, irrespective of who is in power or in charge of regulation. More must be done to assist advisers with the transition to a business model that will be a winner in 2012.

The IFP has long called for better definition of the roles filled by individuals within a firm. Over the last two years, the role of the financial planner has been defined and is consis-tent with the role of the financial planner around the world, which amazingly includes Europe.

This means that having agreed the role specifications, it becomes easier to set a syllabus and method of testing. A defined structure of CPD that sits with that role can now also be provided. The certified financial planner accreditation covers this role requirement and therefore provides a clear point of reference for the consumer.

In 2009, the same process has been followed for the role of the paraplanner. The role has been defined and the standards set. The syllabus has been set out and an exam-ination will be in place by the end of the year. To meet regulatory requirements, this will be set at QCA level 4.

The same process has been followed with Manchester Metropolitan University. It seems ridiculous that most financial services degrees in the UK do not lead seamlessly into a sensible career structure in the world of retail financial services. The MMU financial planning degree will be a sand-wich course that will give students a route to the certified financial planner accreditation and exemptions from all regulatory examinations because they will be included in the course which is a QCA level 6 qualification.

Having graduated, the student will ultimately be able to find a job which will enable them to build up the experience that they need for their prof-essional qualification to be recognised.

If others are calling for different qualifications, the roles have to be properly defined and then communicated properly to the consumer. If the banks, for example, think that they need lesser qualifications, it is possible that their titles should be “only able to sell you a bond adviser”. This might be a little facetious but to gain greater confid-ence from consumers, absolute transparency is essential.

Nick Cann is chief executive of the Institute of Finan- cial Planning

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