The Financial Services Skills Council is launching another round of consultations on examination reform proposals this Friday to look at final draft specifications for investment and mortgage advice exams and the way appropriate exams should be identified.
However, any plans to implement examination reform could be delayed until at least November 2005 when details of the international ISO financial planning standard will finally be published.
The FSSC says this is the first time the examination review – to be detailed in Friday’s ‘Assuring the Quality of Appropriate Examinations’ paper - has gone out to industry-wide consultation since the Financial Services Authority (FSA) handed over responsibility to the Skills Council.
Unfortunately for the FSSC, there are several key developments outside their control which could yet upset the reform process and its content.
Negotiations over the Investment Services Directive and other European legislation have to be completed Easter, or all could falter politically, as European elections in May could affect the content of directives, depending on the outcome of elections.
The Skills Council says it is seeking views on the identification of appropriate exams and draft mortgage and investment advice specs until 15th April, at which stage the Skills Council will then publish a first list of appropriate exams.
However, any reforms implemented could still be upset by developments either at the European Commission and Parliament or in relation to the ISO standard, as the ISO proposals are not due to go through the next round of consultations until June, according to Carol Egglestone, secretary to the FCF6 committee on Financial Services at the British Standards Institute.
Any plans for the ISO standard - discussed in Kuala Lumpur last month by representatives of financial advisers and planners from around the world - will inevitably influence the UK financial advice and planning standard under under current FSSC plans, as the ISO is supposed to sit at the top of the UK financial exams chain, as something for financial intermediaries to aspire to and gain.
It could be difficult for the FSSC in the short-term to include plans for the ISO as the next round of ISO voting and reform is expected to last five months – taking the process to November 2004 – while final draft international standards – dubbed the FDIS – will not be released until February 2005.
Only once final changes and voting has been made can the ISO standard then be rolled out to the world in November 2005, says Egglestone.
Moreover, there is also only two real representatives of the IFA sector, as Michael Couzens, Customer Services Director at Sesame and financial planner Phil Stafford of Stafford & Co are the only FSSC board members working within the adviser market.
Copies of the FSSC consultation paper will be available on the FSSC website from Friday 19th March or by contacting the FSSC.IFAonline
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From 1 March