The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) says it will take four years for all advisers to reach a high level of professional standards, as part of its final submission for the FSA's Retail Distribution Review (RDR), published today.
As part of its recommendations, the CII calls for a single independent professional standards board to be set up to help develop professional standards across the financial services.
The recommendations also advise the FSA to make the Certificate in Financial Planning (CFP) a requirement for all advisers, including primary advisers.
The CII’s submission brings together ideas developed in its five position papers, which have been published over the past two months, and aims to improve professional standards, not only through increased qualification standards, but also through a step-change in behaviour, which goes beyond simply passing exams.
Sandy Scott, chief executive of the CII, comments: “The CII’s message to the FSA is that if the RDR is to succeed, it must have at its heart a real step change in professionalism. We believe this to be a vital component in any process of change- but we accept it is only part of any package of reform.”
The CII’s proposals include the introduction of a tiered professionalism framework to bring improved standards across the distribution sector, the creation of a single professional standards body with disciplinary and complaints-handling functions, and a professional approach to conflicts of interest.
The CII also called for a standardised qualifications framework to improve the public understanding of adviser qualifications.
The Institute had previously condemned the ‘alphabet soup’ of qualifications, which allows advisers to add many similar qualifications to their name, and instead proposes a system similar to that in schools, where GCSEs or A-Levels are awarded by all examining bodies.
The CII emphasised that all these proposals must be backed up by a step-change in behaviour and qualification standards, but says it must be implemented over a reasonable timescale of four years.
The paper proposes giving advisers above the primary level four years to qualify for the Diploma in Financial Planning and all advisers should aspire to Chartered Financial Planner status.
The CII also says all advisers should become members of a professional body to help ensure standards are subscribed to and maintained.
Scott says the CII will support these objectives by providing practical advice to members on the transition to greater professionalism.
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