Thinking about boosting your qualifications up to the dizzy heights of Level 6? Rebecca Jones finds out why, and how, advisers do it.
One of the most contentious requirements of the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) was the Financial Services Authority’s (FSA) move to raise the adviser qualification bar to QCF Level 4 as a way to increase the professionalism of the sector.
While most advisers – reluctantly or otherwise – submitted to the new requirements, a significant amount chose to leave the industry in the face of extra studies and exams. Many, however, decided to view the move as an opportunity to go one step further and extend their professionalism towards QCF Level 6.
Some have done so in anticipation that the FSA’s successor, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), may decide to up the benchmark again in the future. However, most have chosen to add to their qualifications in order to distinguish themselves in a post-RDR world.
How to attain QCF Level 6
“Particularly since RDR, Level 6 qualifications have become a value proposition that advisers can show to their clients who will then be far happier paying fees for the service they get,” says Sue Whitbread, communications director at the Institute of Financial Planning (IFP).
However, trainers and advisers alike insist that attaining Level 6 qualifications is not just about justifying fees or, as Whitbread puts it, “getting letters after your name”.
Most advisers, whether they pursued Chartered status with the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) or completed the IFP’s Certified Financial Planner (CFP) programme, agree that getting to Level 6 has improved their skills.
“With the CFP particularly, I’ve come on leaps and bounds,” claims Gareth Reynolds, chartered and certified financial planner at MGS Financial.
“It has given me the confidence and the knowledge to work a lot more with clients on financial planning,” he adds.
Huw Jones, director at Proposito, agrees: “It was a very difficult process but a really rewarding one that improved not only me as a financial planner, but our business too.”
Chartered and CFP
Both the advanced diploma in financial planning offered by the CII and the CFP programme at the IFP are Level 6 qualifications. Advisers going through the CII tend to do so in order to gain Chartered status.
This can be applied for once they have attained the advanced diploma, but they must also be a member of the Personal Finance Society (PFS) and have five or more years’ industry experience.
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