IFAs face a "race against time" to get in shape for the RDR, with some exhibiting glaring gaps in their knowledge of new qualification requirements, recent research suggests.
A Focus Solutions Group survey polling 28 IFA firms of varying sizes in Q1 reveals a quarter either lack any understanding of the RDR or have only a basic understanding of the regulatory framework due to come into effect at the end of 2012.
Although half of respondents say they have a broad understanding of the RDR, Focus Solutions training and consultancy director Alison Young says those firms lagging behind must act now before it is too late.
"The survey backs up the fact some firms face a race against time to get ready for the RDR and these firms need to crack on," she says.
The survey throws light on poor take-up levels of Level 4 training, with half of those polled yet to put in place training programmes for the new qualification requirements.
A quarter of respondents say they have between 200 and 400 advisers still to undertake Level 4 training, with a further 25% having over 400 advisers yet to make the transition and 10% not even clarifying their Level 4 requirements.
Just one in five (21%) have a basic understanding of the Level 4 framework.
The survey results will be passed to the FSA and Young thinks they are consistent with the regulator's expectations.
"It is encouraging that half of firms have a broad understanding of the RDR but there remains a significant number still needing guidance," she says.
She adds those firms seeking guidance are not necessarily ill-prepared for the RDR but rather waiting for more detailed information on the proposals to be released.
"There is a sense that people are hanging back not because they think the RDR will go away but because they are making sure they get their hands on all the information before making strategic decisions."
"Firms could be waiting for more Level 4 information to be released as examining bodies work on new qualifications."
She expects, therefore, the number of firms lacking adequate understanding of the RDR to drop significantly by the end of the year when more information becomes available.
But she warns those firms getting to grips with the RDR should not do so at the expense of more long-term planning.
"Post-RDR, firms could have issues with regard to training. At the moment, firms are carrying out tactical changes to get them through exams and other regulatory requirements but not thinking too much what they will do after the RDR.
"We are concerned about how firms are addressing the management of CPD on a long-term basis."
The FSA is due to release a Policy Statement on the RDR at the end of March.
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