A straw poll I conducted amongst financial advisers at the recent IFP Conference revealed a disappointing result; not one reported keeping their CPD certificates in a shoebox under the bed.
This is the popular cliché – that CPD evidence is a collection of unsorted documents, evidencing attendance at long-forgotten seminars and conferences. The reality is more likely to be a spreadsheet, though the challenge remains, as one adviser describes, “I do the hours; I just forget to log them.”
The CPD rules are changing, and with them the requirement for keeping good records.
Completing a minimum of 35 hours of relevant and verifiable CPD will be essential for holding on to a Statement of Professional Standing. When it comes to renewing that SPS, at least 10 per cent of advisers’ records will be checked by their accredited body, which will be looking for clear evidence that advisers have maintained their technical knowledge, kept abreast of marketplace and regulatory changes, and developed skills and expertise relevant to their role.
After 2012, therefore, keeping on top of the new CPD requirements may shape up to be something of a headache. After factoring in the time it takes to plan CPD activities, identify knowledge gaps, find relevant solutions, travel to and attend seminars and keep proper records, fulfilling the minimum 35 hours could take advisers away from their core business for more like 100 to 140 hours. Given all the talk of hourly chargeable rates recently, it is all too apparent what a considerable sum that might represent.
The fact is that advisers still can keep their CPD records in a shoebox, or an Excel file, though evidence for each activity must cover:
the adviser’s knowledge gaps and the objective for the CPD activity (for example, “I need to understand how auto-enrolment will work for staff in small businesses”);
a description of the CPD activity (perhaps an auto-enrolment workshop, with details of its duration and provider); and
confirmation that the learning objective has been met, together with verifiable evidence of completing the activity.
There is no easy way around putting in the hours. However, it is worth using as much of this time as possible to develop skills, knowledge and understanding that will help provide effective advice to clients and perhaps even open up new opportunities for business.
To save on unnecessary admin time and record-keeping headaches, Money Marketing has launched its own free, independent and fully accredited CPD Centre.
The Money Marketing CPD Centre is both a recording tool, and a searchable resource of high-quality CPD activities.
Many of the activities are technical learning modules and regulatory updates provided by Taxbriefs, with a focus on the practical application of knowledge to client-facing situations.
Users of the CPD Centre can select a template upon which to create their CPD plan to give some structure to work with and to save on the daunting task of sitting down at the start of the year with a blank sheet of paper, trying to work out what CPD needs to address.
The system uses multiple choice questions to refine a chunky syllabus into the specific areas of technical knowledge that need brushing up.
To help spread the CPD commitment across the year, the templates provide a suggested plan that addresses one technical knowledge subject every other month.
Once a month, users can access a new round-up of the latest marketplace and regulatory change, compiled by Taxbriefs and Money Marketing.
Working through one of these templates covers off all the core structured CPD requirements, leaving advisers free to choose other activities to fill in their remaining hours.
CPD Centre users are provided with their own personal email address to forward certificates of attendance and other CPD evidence, and can log details of their SPS application, keeping all their CPD records and documents in one ‘virtual shoebox’.
The Money Marketing CPD Centre is free to use for all advisers and is accredited by the CII, IFP and IFS.
The new CPD rules kick in from next year, however, it is worth spending some time now choosing and getting comfortable with a CPD solution so that there’s one less headache to wake up with on 1 January 2013.
Julie Minett is the operations director of Money Marketing CPD Centre
The Money Marketing CPD Centre can be found at www.ifacpd.com