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The Wild West of RDR support – questions your trainer must answer

Imagine just for one minute that you no longer have to pass any RDR level 4 exams….that no one is ever  going to observe and grade your skills in client meetings again….that not a single one of your client files is going to be scrutinised against a compliance checklist ever again ….in fact any unhappy clients will have no one formally to complain to or get compensation from….that you won’t have to check any of your clients’ needs before making a recommendation because you have an off-the-shelf one-size-fits-all solution, and….the pièce de résistance ….yes, you don’t need to worry about whether you ever answer accurately another client question or check that they understand anything you tell them.

Interesting skill set don’t you think?

The world I describe above exists for the trainers who run the revision courses and design the very materials you rely on to pass the RDR exams.  I’m one of them, so I know that there is no regulation or defined standards for this group. And as the demand for training and revision support to pass the exams has mushroomed, more and more people are turning their hand to training. It’s a bit like the Wild West.

One of our clients told us of a free one day course where they had to leave at lunch time because it was getting embarrassing that the Trainer kept being corrected or didn’t know the answer to questions.  I’ve also seen one website offering exam study packs which are produced by ‘experts’. The only thing is you can’t actually find any names of the people involved anywhere on the site.  The site itself has several grammar and spelling mistakes so it is no surprise that I found the packs contained technical inaccuracies. These are courses and study packs that exam candidates rely on to help them pass their exam, one or two marks not gained as a result of inaccuracy is enough to fail.  Then it’s resits; time, money and further pressures as 31 December 2012 gets closer and closer.

So as we move into the final 12 months for you to acquire a level 4 qualification, get any qualification gaps filled and validated by an Accredited Body and, finally, obtain your well earned and essential Statement of Professional Standing – you may want to consider into who’s hands you entrust your career in the countdown to 2013.

So next time you are discussing exam support with a trainer or exam support material supplier, consider asking them a few simple questions:

·      “Have you got a training qualification or are you accredited?”

·      “Have you passed this exam yourself?” 

·      “Have your materials been checked as accurate?”

·      “How often have you trained this subject?”  

·      ‘’How many people have you helped pass this exam?’’

·       ‘‘Would you be happy for me to speak to someone who has used your services already?’’

In other words, employ the same sort of due diligence on your training supplier as your clients and the FSA can apply to you.  The great irony of 2012 for me is that regulated advisers who have to sit exams to demonstrate their professionalism, may be being trained by unregulated Trainers who don’t have to demonstrate their professionalism or even have the qualifications themselves.

Steve Davies runs the Financial Adviser Academy


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There are 7 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. And what is even worse, if the CII computer based exam system at the test centre fails to record your answers correctly or in fact registers that you did not take the exam all you are entitled to apparently is a free re sit. This happened to me on the 28th November this year at Start Training in Swinton, Manchester and the CII will not accept that I knew I had passed the exam based on the 3 x 100 test papers I did a couple of days beforehand, indicating I had at last took this rubbish in and was able to apply it for exam purposes, no one in the IFA sector would possibly use the majority of the coursebook stuff in their daily work.

    Who gives a toss what the Sharpe Ratio is, the Beta of an individual share etc. Not our province, see the fund managers. To calculate APR and AER is only performed using computer software, doing it manually can lead to errors.

    This industry and the so called Professional qualifications being forced upon is rapidly becoming a joke.

    Might be time for a career path change. Any suggestions for what an ethical honest IFA with 21 yrs experience can do for a living which will earn a decent wage and have no liabilities.

    Maybe Woodturning ?

  2. David Trenner - Intelligent Pensions 12th December 2011 at 9:59 am

    Steve, Please do not assume that all people offering training are at your self-confessed inadequate level.

    I have delivered about a dozen pensions gap-fill seminars for the PFS, who have vetted all of my slides. I used to be the senior examiner for the CII for each of the pensions exams G60, K10 and K20 and have also passed each of those exams. I completed my FCII through the pensions route, and have subsequently sat G70 and CF9.

    There will hopefully come a time when all IFAs have completed exams before advising, in much the way that Accountants and Lawyers do, but in the meantime everyone has to get their gaps filled. If this means someone unqualified reading from a textbook, rather than someone with 30+ years of experience covering the subject in depth, so be it.

  3. Ned Taylor @ 9.52am

    ‘Maybe woodturning…’ – not such a bad idea Ned. I have over 150k of recurrent income from my clients but I am just finishing my training as a blacksmith. IFA work will gradually be second fiddle for all the very good reasons you point out. Who knows, you may find wood turning seriously enjoyable, and as of yet, nobody regulates it.

  4. As 1/1/13 approaches the number of support service providers will increase at the rate IFA’s go out of business. Makes you wonder what will happen then?

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  6. It is not just training providers of course that have seen a growth surge it is the growth in qualifications and alternative assessments from a wide variety of organisations. Many of trainers that have their own businesses will be the same ones doing the work for the exam awarding bodies. I think you will find that the number of actual employees who have technical knowledge are few and far between. The awarding bodies contract the training providers to do work for them. Then it becomes a bit silly if the training provider is then accredited by the awarding body itself!

    With all the new companies being set up you also need to look at training providers that have been se up for a while, these new ones on the block may not be around for a while. I also think the Adviser Academies from he providers will also soon disappear as fast as they appeared as we approach 2013.

  7. Given the R0 exams are pretty basic and a straightforward way of getting to level 4 i can’t really see the need for trainers.

    Maybe they have use to get to level 6, i can’t say, but level 4 no.

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