Financial recruitment consultancy BWD has launched an E-learning initiative designed to provide a fast-track route to Level 4 and "engage" advisers turned off by "dull" RO1 course material.
BWD Development is an online programme aimed at reducing the financial and man-hour costs of Level 4 qualification by allowing advisers to study in flexible, bite-sized chunks and thereby control their pace of learning.
Costing £99, the RO1 programme offers 14 chapters covering 11 learning outcomes, mock exams and study plan guidance.
Conversations the company had with 2,000 advisers prior to launch revealed large numbers were uncomfortable with formal study and turned off by "dull and boring" current learning material.
"The RO1 manual is technically a reference manual - but when we spoke to advisers they said they want some engagement with their learning material," said BWD development director James Walker.
Earlier this year, an IFA hit out at the CII's "irrelevant" RO1 study manual, claiming it leaves advisers "gambling" with their futures.
Walker added: "Pass rates are still very low and our feedback clearly shows this is in large part due to advisers being turned off by the study options currently available to them."
With BWD's E-programme offering 550 test questions, five mock examinations, formal assessment modules and an on-site learning record, he said it gives IFAs all the information they need to pass the RO1.
The programme's content director Mark Thewlis is a chartered financial planner and current CII examiner and accredited trainer.
Launch of the initiative comes as advisery firms attach ever-greater importance to Level 4 status. According to BWD, larger firms are refusing to consider candidates for adviser roles if they have not gained Level 4 requirements.
"In effect, RDR is already here," said Walker.
With BWD research suggesting 35% of advisers have yet to take any steps to gain Level 4 qualified, it would seem a worrying number of IFAs now face a race against time to get RDR-ready.
Furthermore, the onus is on advisers to pass first time with pass rates for some diploma papers only around 50%.
"Time and work pressures delay studying and this is compounded by ever-shrinking opportunities to sit the actual exams - the exam sittings have to be booked well ahead so the pressure is on to pass first time," said Walker.
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