Training and competence are buzz word that have occupied us for several years now.
We are about to go into another area of change when the skills council is fully effective. The big question is whether all this effort is worth it. Are we better off as a result of all of the hours spent in the classroom and could we be more effective in our competence efforts? I suspect no one would argue that we should return to the old days of little training for new entrants.
The CII has for a long time wanted to review the FPC exam. This has been delayed by the exam review but in the new skills council syllabus, we have a major step forward. At certificate level, an adviser will have to pass a regulatory paper, an advice skills paper and three product papers – retirement planning, protection and investment and risk.
There will be additional modules on lifetime mortgages, mortgage advice and critical-illness insurance. For those who want to become holistic financial planners and who will specialise in more complex areas, there is the AFPC which we will adapt to a modular basis over the next 12 months so the approach is consistent with the approach at certificate level.
We will design a transitional arrangement for those halfway through FPC and AFPC on the basis of fair credit for the work done. Those who have passed FPC will be grandfathered but might consider taking the investment and risk paper to upgrade their qualification to the level of new entrants.
Turning to CPD, the CII and Sofa are not in favour of an hours-based approach – we prefer CPD to be measured in terms of output. A good CPD plan will look at what is needed to continue competence in your current role and what CPD is needed to move to a new role or area of practice.
The output of the activity undertaken is measured and recorded. The maintenance of competence is moving to an electronic environment using tools such as the CII's financial assets products which gives a complete CPD programme together with an electronic record of activity.
Do firms get a return on capital invested in training? I suspect the answer is yes. Competent advisers are likely to be more effective in front of clients and will keep away the attentions of the regulators and litigators.
Bob Bullivant is managing director of Sofa