Review of adviser exams could lead to drop in standards, warns LIA

A proposed review of financial advisers&#39 exams could lead to a drop in standards and further confusion among the public, the LIA has warned.

The Financial Services Skills Council is proposing a range of modular exams from which employers can select, depending on the roles of their employees.

However, the LIA, which represents 20,000 people in the industry, says that this structure removes the prescription of qualifications necessary for particular jobs, currently contained in the FSA&#39s list of approved examinations.

In a letter to Skills Council managing director Teresa Sayers, LIA head of public affairs John Ellis asks: “Would there not be a temptation for authorised firms to seek out easier options?”

The LIA says that one strength of the current system, in which the FSA gives recognition to a certificate or degree, is that it defines the knowledge needed for particular jobs.

He says: “The Skills Council should also define job roles and the skills and knowledge that should support them. 60;Otherwise it will no longer be possible for a member of the public to see the extent to which a person performing a function on their behalf is qualified to the right level. If such matters were to be left to voluntary industry action, we would predict a falling off of standards.”

“Calling for the inclusion of an advice skills examination in the Skills Council&#39s range of appropriate examinations. The absence of it from any qualification would mean that an opportunity was lost to ensure consumer needs are better addressed.

“A good deal more work needs to be done on this package. There are some fundamental conceptual problems and also a good many technical problems which need to be addressed.

The Financial Services Skills Council operates within the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding with the FSA. It has agreed to ensure that appropriate examinations are available, taking into account the needs of consumers and employers, which will in time replace FSA approved examinations. It is currently consulting on the content of these examinations in parallel with amendments to the FSA Handbook.