The Investment Management Association has teamed up with the Securities and Investment Institute to offer a voluntary, stand alone investment qualification.
It says the Financial Services Authority’s (FSA) decision to move towards a principles-based Training and Competence regime, as proposed in consultation paper CP07/04 'The Training and Competence Sourcebook Review', should not mean standards are allowed to drop.
Although the consultation, which closes on 23 May 2007, suggests the new regime should be founded on high-level rules and guidance, it will still retain exam requirements for retail business, which the FSA says “are seen as essential to protect consumers”.
As a result the IMA and the SII says while the existing obligation for many non-customer facing workers to pass an exam will disappear, it suggests the new entry-level qualification ‘Introduction to Investment Foundation Qualification’ is an employer-led initiative “designed to take up the slack” and provide these staff with background knowledge to their job.
It says the exam is designed specifically for employees new to the fund management industry, and aims to give new recruits a broad understanding of the financial services industry, while providing an early opportunity to achieve an industry standard qualification.
The current syllabus of the exam is split into 10 elements covering topics including financial assets and markets; equities; bonds; derivatives; investment funds; financial services regulation and investment wrappers, taxation and trusts.
However Victoria Nye, director of education and training at the IMA, says it is still early days as the syllabus is continuing to evolve to ensure it is relevant to the industry, and to the people taking the exam.
The qualification is recognised by the Financial Services Skills Council (FSSC) as an appropriate examination and Nye points out the SII will also be using the exam with college leavers and people who wish to gain a special qualification in financial services.
In addition, she points out the qualification, which is an enhanced first unit of the SII’s ‘Investment Administration Qualification’, is suitable for a range of staff not in traditional investment administration roles, such as support teams in IFA firms; customer services and sales and marketing staff.
Dan Waters, director of retail policy and asset management sector leader at the FSA, says: “Our new T&C sourcebook gives firms greater flexibility to determine how best to achieve the standards FSA expects – cost-effectively and consistently.”
“Trade associations have an important role to play and IMA’s partnership initiative with the SII is a good example of this in practice.”
Nye says the IMA is committed to achieving high professional standards in the investment management sector through qualifications which are relevant to business needs, and believes this will “help to enhance the reputation of the industry among its customers”.
She adds: “This is about pushing principles based regulation to see how far it goes, and we are keen for other sectors to follow our lead to improve standards across the whole of the financial services industry.”
Initial sittings for the qualification will take place from July, and Nye adds the IMA and SII are also looking at enhancing the qualification over the next 12-18 months to encompass other areas of the investment industry.
Training for the qualification is supplied by 7City and BPP or through self-study using a workbook - costing £75 - and e-learning. Additional costs include a £40 registration fee and £85 for the exam itself, which is available through computer-based testing.
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