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Standards body needed to stop exam arbitrage

Until the FSA develops an independent professional standards board, there is a danger of “qualification arbitrage” emerging, according to the Chartered Insurance Institute.

Speaking at the CII presidents dinner last week, president Trevor Matthews told guests there is an urgent need for a standards’ watchdog acting on behalf of consumers.

He said: “It is important to be aware that until the FSA has fully consulted, there is a danger of qualification arbitrage breaking out as no independent professional standards board yet exists to act as guarantor on behalf of the pub- lic for standards across the financial adviser profession.”

Matthews said the CII is working hard to take the professionalism agenda forward and last year saw a 55 per cent increase in the number of people taking diploma-level courses in financial planning.

He said the number of chartered financial planners increased by 31 per cent last year to nearly 1,600 and almost 200 firms qualified for chartered status by the end of 2008.

Matthews said the CII is establishing a senior practitioner-led taskforce for general insurance chaired by deputy president Barry Smith.

Matthews said: “This will involve senior figures across the spectrum of general insurance. They will look at all aspects of professional standards and draw on the progress made by the RDR but this time we the profession will lead the debate rather than wait for regulatory imposition.

“Although there is no regu- latory equivalent or RDR stim-ulus facing general insurance, the issue of raising standards of professionalism applies here as well. Thankfully, we do not have the same burning platform as we do on the life side but we believe there is a need to take pre-emptive action to raise standards here too.”

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