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University College launches pension transfer qualification

Financial education organisation ifs University College has launched a new pension transfer qualification following the FCA’s proposals to tighten advice in the area.

Last month, the regulator revealed plans to require all transfers out of defined benefit schemes to be undertaken by advisers with a pension transfer specialist qualification.

Transfers from other “safeguarded benefits”, such as plans with guaranteed annuity rates, will require advice to be taken but a specialist qualification will not be necessary.

Ifs University College’s single unit qualification, the award in pensions transfers (AwPETR) meets the requirements set out by the FCA.

Vice principal of banking, finance and regulation Martin Day says: “Access to high quality professional advice on pensions has always been important for consumers but the recent reforms mean it is now more vital than ever. With greater freedom comes greater risk and it is essential that advisers have the advanced knowledge and understanding to be able to make appropriate recommendations.”

He adds: “The recent reforms mark some of the most significant changes that the industry has seen in recent years and the launch of this qualification is very  timely. It is vital that anyone advising on pensions operates to the highest of professional and ethical standards.”

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Comments

There are 6 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. If they can do it why is it that the CII will not put an extra exam date before October this year for AF3 as a one off? Evan if this date was in July.

    It seems to me that little thought is put into when to hold the exams by the CII. April means study time for advisers is limited before hand due to tax year end and October is also a busy time. If thought was applied the exams would be held end of June, beginning July and end of January early February. In this way during the quite or more manageable months, outside the holiday periods advisers would have more time to prepare.

    It is only my thoughts, but then what advantage is gained by actually giving advisers a time schedule that gives advisers time to revise outside some of the most taxing and busy times of the financial year.

  2. Well done the IFS.

  3. @Martin Evans – I raised that with the CII too on MM. My suggestion would be that AF5 and AF3 are three times a year (April, July and Oct sounds good) with AF2, AF4 and AF1 remaining twice a year.
    The CII’s arguments were that it would need more exam markers, but I don’t see that as being correct as surely it would simply spread the marking over a wider period. Yes if ALL AF exams were made 3 x a year, it would be a problem, but having an extra sitting of different exams dependent upon demand/request in July could make sense. It would certainly help advisers with their studies having to come around work (which MUST take priority)

  4. CII are launching a level 4 diploma pension reforms on-line, but as far as I know it will not be enough for pension transfers and advisers who are not sitting AF3 this week will need to sit AF3 in October or do an exam with a different body.

  5. I spoke to CII three weeks ago asking why they cannot put an extra sitting of AF3 in July due to FCA changes announced days after the closing date for Aprils AF3. I was always going to do this exam and as the FCA stated in December they did not see any need to change current rules I put off doing it in April due to excessive work load. Their response was predictable, effectively saying its to much work for them as a written exam? as for demand I would put a months salary on there being more than enough demand for a July sitting.

    As I have stated above, there is little thought about when the exams are offered and an advisers working life. I have resisted moving to another body, but feel it may be time to look at alternatives. I would prefer to keep all my exams under one body ( I believe there should only be one) and do believe the CII is the better qualification, if not a harder option to undertake.

    Have not really missed AF3 until now as referred all occupational transfers before retirement to a pension specialist locum. The new rules mean at retirement advice the AF3 will be needed for many more consumers, so now a priority. So frustrated with both regulator and CII.

  6. Whilst the qualification may meet ‘requirements set out by the FCA’, students living in Scotland appear to be banned from sitting or indeed studying for this examination.

    On this basis it would be entirely unfair on those living in Scotland if the FCA even thought about using the examination as part of the process to become a PTS.

    We are all one country, after all those living in Scotland are allowed to sit CII examinations. I trust the FCA will step in and make it clear that if Scottish students are banned,then the examination cannot be used as part of the authorisation process to become a PTS. If Scottish students are banned then the course should be binned.

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