Chartered Insurance Institute’s Society of Mortgage Professionals chief executive Richard Fox has previously called for QCF level four exams to be developed for mortgage intermediaries and for an industry push to make this the benchmark qualification.
Speaking at the Money Marketing round table, Fox said: “I think there is a certain illogicality in the paper that says if you are advising on investment products you need to be QCF level four whereas if you are advising on a mortgage you don’t need to be. Brokers have told me they want to do everything they can to be perceived to be professional. If you are saying you want to be professional, then I think you need to aim slightly higher than level three.”
PMS chairman John Malone agreed that while exams are a hurdle, particularly for older advisers, the drive towards higher qualifications is worthwhile. He said: “Someone who has got experience and knowledge will not have a problem with being told they have to get a slightly better qualification, because they take pride in what they are doing.”
But Nationwide for Intermediaries head of corporate accounts Paul Howard and Mortgageforce managing director Kevin Duffy argued that the model is not broken and does not need to be fixed. Duffy pointed to low levels of complaints for mortgage advice from intermediaries that are referred to the ombudsman.
Association of Mortgage Intermediaries director Robert Sinclair said it would be better to widen the scope of the QCF level three qualification for mortgage advice than to force all mortgage advisers to attain level four. He said: “It is about depth and breadth. You could have a very broad level three qualification which is much harder than what we have got today or we could have a very narrow level four qualification which would make somebody very specialist but not a very good adviser. Level three qualification for me covers most of the bases for 95 per cent of the mortgage transactions that cross the desk.”
Fox said assessing mortgage affordability is not included in the current level three qualifications but Sinclair said: “It is in the core learning outcomes – the fact it is not built into your syllabus or exams does not mean it is not there. You have not built it into the syllabus because you only have to get 80 per cent of the content of the out comes into the syllabus to get it approved.”