The Financial Services Skills Council needs to shoulder more responsibility for the coming exam regime if it wants reforms to be a success, says the Association of IFAs.
In a response to the Skills Council's consultation paper on "Assuring the Quality of Appropriate Examinations", AIFA says it believes the Council's responsibilities relating to the examination framework should be widened.
Furthermore, AIFA says it will not feel confident the new framework can deliver a system - encouraging professionalism in the industry, which will ultimately be of real benefit to consumers - until the FSSC does so.
The association's main concern is the Financial Services Skills Council has neither assumed responsibility for setting the level of examinations nor suggested what minimum qualifications would be appropriate for specific advisory roles.
Responsibilities are currently divided between the Skills Council, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) and different awarding bodies.
However, AIFA is concerned the QCA does not have enough knowledge of the industry and requirements to be "best placed to judge".
Paul Smee, AIFA’s director general, says: "We believe the Skills Council is on the right track, but its responsibilities need to be clarified and, in our view, broadened. There are still many questions about the proposed framework which lack satisfactory answers."
"We accept the urgent need for a swift and satisfactory conclusion to this review and we are keen to continue working with the Skills Council to achieve an examination framework that the industry needs and wants."
AIFA feels greater responsibility on the part of the FSSC would ensure:
- minimum exam requirements - to give investment advice - are clearly defined;
- standards deliver a qualification which is set at a level at least equivalent to the current FPC;
- methods of assessment are robust;
- there is a consistent approach to qualifications;
- qualifications are clearly recognisable by both industry and consumers, and
- qualifications are readily portable from one company to another.
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