Some advisers now fear they are living in a training vacuum as, under the old PIA, the adviser and h...
Some advisers now fear they are living in a training vacuum as, under the old PIA, the adviser and his/her firm knew exactly where they stood. Training requirements were clearly laid out and it was relatively easy to develop a training programme based on the PIA's training and competence guides.
However, now we live in the grown-up world of the FSA, there are no prescriptive rules or regulations. Even the need to complete 50 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) has been removed, so what should the poor adviser (or his/her training manager) do?
Well, of course, the above is nonsense. The FSA has not removed the need for structured training. Indeed, the lack of rules increases that need and clearly places the responsibility for training where it belongs: with the adviser and his/her firm. For advisers who long for rules, however, here are a few to follow:
• Rule one: your training is about you. What are your needs and what is appropriate to you and your firm?
• Rule two: no cheating. Collecting 50 hours of CPD was never really the rule but rather a guide that was unfortunately often seen as a requirement. Even under the PIA, training was always required to be adviser-specific and relevant. Therefore, do not collect hours, collect value.
• Rule three: make training part of your business model. Use training to enhance your performance and the quality and breadth of your business.
• Rule four: take advanced financial planning certificate and, if you have already completed the three-paper minimum, go onto ASFA and FSFA. This is not because examination is the be all and end all of training but because, to pass the exams, you will have to improve your knowledge and that, in turn, will increase your effectiveness and business.
Sometimes I hear advisers say sitting various exams was a waste of time as they learnt nothing new. What does this tell us? Probably two things, either that they were forced to sit an exam for a regulatory reason (say G60 Pensions), in which they were already competent or they chose the wrong examination. It would obviously have been better to choose a paper that expanded their knowledge.
Of course, the FSA has not been ignoring training. In December 2001, the regulator issued Discussion Paper 9: Examination Review and has recently issued the market feedback (plus its comments). Interestingly, the FSA appears to have taken on board a number of the issues raised. In particular, there had been concerns regular re-testing would be introduced that would be operated on a sheep-deep basis, merely assessing advisers on the knowledge they should already have. The FSA has clearly stated, however, that 're-testing is likely to be one aspect of maintaining competence but it should be targeted very specifically at technical or regulatory knowledge as it changes or develops'.
In September 2002, the FSA intends to issue a full consultative paper that will lay down the new training regime. Implementation is likely to be by July 2003.
So, does this mean nothing needs to be done until July 2003? The answer is no. The FSA is not responsible for your training, you are. Whatever guidance is provided, all your training should be specific to your needs, relevant, beneficial and enjoyable.
Peter Williams is head of industry development at Aegon UK
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