The Skills Council for Financial Services is actively encouraging membership of the new training and...
The Skills Council for Financial Services is actively encouraging membership of the new training and skills body by offering smaller IFAs cheaper membership through third-party groups such as the AIFA.
Although Wednesday's announcements was mainly about the next stage of T&C requirements, David Jackman, chief executive of the SCFS, also used the time to promote the SCFC as a paid-for training support organization.
Along with proposals for online training and educational support materials, the new body is part-funded by the government as this same body will take responsibility for consumer education too.
Small and large IFA members will be given support through regular e-briefings, "toolkits" for financial advisers - created through collaboration of trade bodies for the Financial Services National Training Organisation - and competence logs to help maintain training standards and qualifications, as well as receiving accreditation to the SCFC and GISC.
Firms, rather than individual advisers, are being encouraged to become members of the body, as it fits with previous proposals from the FSA - in CP194 the FSA was looking to make the entire firm, rather than individuals, responsible for the advice given by IFAs and the attached compliance.
Most companies will be able to sign up direct to the SCFS, but deals with trade bodies such as the AIFA would provide greater economies of scale to give firms of up to 40 employees membership for around £120 a year.
Fay Goddard, technical director at the Association of IFAs, is in favour of specialist training support for the IFA from an educational body such as the SCFS.
However, there are still questions to be answered, says Goddard, about the group's position in relation to the Financial Services Authority and its position as a government-led body.
Moreover, the trade body is concerned that an educational support group might eventually be hijacked as another means of getting to government officials for the industry's political gains.
"I think the structure [of the SCFS] has the potential to help IFAs, but there are concerns that the group could lose its support status and end up becoming yet another lobbying power for the industry.
"The SCFS expects people to pay money for membership, but the bigger the membership, the harder it could become to keep it just as an educational body. This has to remain a government-led organisation to prevent the industry from driving [the SCFS] and meeting their own needs under their own agenda," says Goddard.
"If firms don't buy into it, they will see it moving in directions which will not suit the IFA market," she adds.
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