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Professional qualification comment

Recent figures published by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) have again focused our attention on the upcoming Retail Distribution Review. For those in IFA jobs or Financial Adviser positions the 2012 deadline for securing Diploma status looks as though it is here to stay and therefore the CII statistics, on the face of it at least, should provide some assurances.

Now is not the time to delve into the positives and negatives of the RDR arguments that will rage on for the next two years. However as a specialist recruitment firm spending a great deal of time placing candidates into IFA positions across the UK, the fact is that to maximise your chances of securing work in a financial adviser role the Diploma cannot be put off any longer. With an increasing number of IFA job profiles already dictating such a level of qualification be held then it is time for those advisers wishing to stay operating on an independent basis to act now.

The CII reports that 88% of those individuals that complete the Diploma do so within 2.5 years. Even more encouragingly, 73% complete it within 2 years. However statistics as we know do not always tell the full story. Such figures only include those individuals, perhaps predisposed for examinations, who have completed the Diploma, not those who are part way through or who abandoned their attempts. Importantly, the average pass rate for modules J01 – J07 in 2008 was between 37% - 55%, meaning that allowing for the occasional fail time really is of the essence for IFAs.

Whilst great numbers of advisers are sure to leave the industry, the CII goes on to report that the number of individuals taking their first Diploma exam has rocketed 160% on this time last year to 7,100, clearly showing that the message is getting through. This figure will also include a raft of administrators and paraplanners seeking to boost their career as advanced qualifications are not solely the preserve of financial advisers.

This is a sensible move, particularly in the difficult job market we continue to face. IFA jobs are at a premium and the level of qualification an adviser has is increasing in importance. Whilst business production will always be a vital factor, there is no point being the world’s greatest fee earner if you don’t have the professional qualifications to continue in such a role. Likewise when it comes to differentiating between individuals for a paraplanner job the level of qualification is bound to have a growing influence on the recruiting manager. It not only provides assurance about technical knowledge; companies that we recruit for would much rather recruit IFAs or paraplanners who have bought into the post-RDR landscape, than those who haven’t.

Therefore unless we see a major u-turn, achievement of a level 4 qualification, be that down the CII or IFS routes, is as a hugely important step for those seeking an IFA job or paraplanning job in the next two years.

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