The Skills Council has produced a consultation paper setting out the qualifications and knowledge IFAs must have to achieve the later life adviser accreditation, which aims to give older clients greater confidence in financial advice.
The FSSC says the accreditation will help people identify advisers who empathise with older clients, understand the specific issues relating to older clients and can give them appropriate advice to meet their needs.
It states: “Clients will also be assured that later life advisers (LLAs) will be sensitive and understanding of their needs and be able to evaluate these in the context of other related issues that arise when working with older clients. In particular a LLA, having identified a specific need would, if necessary, refer their client to appropriate specialists dealing in areas such as immediate needs annuities or equity release schemes as a matter of course.”
The accreditation will be a voluntary scheme, but the FSSC says it aims to ensure participating companies maintain a high level of adviser competence and the proposed logo, which will be used to identify LLAs, will acquire a “trusted brand” status.
It will require advisers to demonstrate an underpinning knowledge in specific areas such as long term care (LTC) planning and equity release, which can be demonstrated by either passing regulatory exams or by use of an agreed equivalent, as well as by demonstrating the use of the national occupational standards unit five for advising on LTC planning.
The process of attaining LLA accreditation includes a self audit and subsequent external verification of both the adviser firm – to ensure they provide a “supportive environment” – and the individual adviser.
The FSSC proposes there will be organisational standards covering the accrediting of the quality of advice, client care, management of client files and record keeping, and individual staff development and performance management.
It states: “Those giving later life advice need both a depth and breadth of knowledge in issues appertaining to older client matters, knowing some to a greater depth than others. For example: IHT, wills, substituted decision making (for example lasting powers of attorney and enduring powers of attorney), the impact of the Mental Capacity Act, and an understanding the effects of aging (gerontology) if they are to reach the accreditation standard.”
The accreditation will continue for three years with an ongoing requirement for personal development in relation to updating knowledge and know how in the older client market.
Advisers will be required to undertake continuing professional development (CPD) of around 50 hours a year specifically in the area of older client matters, such as mental capacity and legal matters which will affect financial advice including funding for care.
If you have any comments you would like to add to this story or would like to speak to its author about a similar subject, telephone Emily Perryman on 020 7034 2680 or email [email protected].IFAonline
FCA consultation response
MoneyLens to be edited by former Mail on Sunday journalist Vicki Owen