The Financial Intermediaries Association (FIA) raised a number of issues in a recent article, published in FAnews. These concerns include:
- The introduction of a Super Regulator
- Measures to provide the Regulator with indemnity from its actions
- Unfair focus on intermediaries when customers complain
- Advisors are required to treat their customers fairly, and expect the same treatment from the FSB
- Fair remuneration after implementation of the Retail Distribution Review.
The article also contains a contribution by an intermediary sharing (what I thought) was a balanced view of his recent experiences:
An intermediary’s point of view
As a practicing financial services intermediary I welcome the positive changes that have shaped my industry over the past decade. I fully support the requirement for fit and proper advice and was first in line to fulfil my regulatory examination requirement. I have experienced ‘first hand’ the benefits to my business, my staff and my clients of increased professionalism in the industry.
The difficulty I have is in determining what is required from my business over the next five years. Instead of the clear roadmap the industry was issued with a decade ago the way forward is now clouded by delays, confusion and uncertainty.
The biggest confusion stems from compliance requirements in a changing regulatory environment. In addition to providing good financial advice to my clients, I must also worry about my ability and mandate to provide on-going advice and support.
From clarity to cloudiness
Five years ago I knew that I would have to complete regulatory exams (level 1 RE) after which I would have to tackle level 2 product exams and Continuous Professional Development (CPD). The industry responded positively to the level 1 requirement and has since complied. We also planned extensively around implementing level 2 and CPD.
But the FSB had to pull the plug on the project in the very year implementation was due. While I welcome their decision – the industry was not ready (in terms of infrastructure and resources) to implement this regulatory pipe dream – it creates more uncertainty. Instead of proposing a new time frame for level 2 and CPD, or scrapping the proposals in favour of a more workable solution, the FSB has indefinitely delayed its guidance on the matter.
Both the intermediary and product providers have pushed hard to meet the various deadlines set by the Regulator, only to be faced with last minute reprieves. We need achievable deadlines, set once and then adhered to!
We want to pick up on the issue of training after the postponement of the level 2 REs and formalised continuous professional development.
In an article earlier this year, we pointed out that many learners enrolled for training as a means of gaining exemption from the level 2 REs. The FSB announced that some of the qualifying criteria are no longer valid. This could impact on whether a qualification will still qualify for exemption, if and when the level 2 regulatory examinations become available.
Those people appointed in the industry from 2010 onwards do not have much of an option. If they do have an approved qualification, they are obliged to obtain such a qualification while working under supervision.
For the older hands, it may be time to make a mind shift in how you view future training. Rather than wait to be compelled to do training, consider the benefits of sharpening your knowledge and skills by selecting training relevant to your chosen field of business:
- It keeps you up to date with the latest developments
- You remain competitive with new entrants who are obliged to acquire a full qualification
Approved qualifications are only valid for three years before it has to be reviewed. This ensures that the content remains relevant. Be very wary of attending training just for the sake of training, or because it is cheap. The following tips should help you avoid the trap many learners fell into when trying to obtain credits under the old dispensation:
- Establish a Personal Development Plan (which includes you Career Succession Plan) in conjunction with your Line Manager, HR Consultant, Life Coach or FET Consultant
- If your plan is to remain in the Financial Services Industry, confirm your current NQF Level. Obtain qualified advice from an FET (Further Education and Training) expert on the most logical, pragmatic and affordable way of attaining a higher qualification aligned to the FSB requirements. Remember that there are major differences between Skills Programmes and Full Qualifications. You would not want to spend energy on what you believe to be a Full Qualification only to discover that it is not!
- Verify on the Inseta website that the training provider is registered with Inseta. The courses which such a provider offers have to be approved and reviewed every third year.
- Stick with one provider –courses vary, and you may find that, despite having attended five modules, you are still short of the minimum credits required to make up a full qualification. There are specific requirements in terms of elective, core and fundamental components which, if you do not have the required mixture, will not lead to a full qualification.
- Education is a critical element of personal growth and development in the industry. The qualification you choose to attain should complement your existing job requirements and future career aspirations. So .. choose carefully as you develop yourself into a true industry professional!
For advice or assistance, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are only starting out, she will point you in the right direction. If you are already enrolled, but not sure whether your qualification will lead to the required outcome, she will do the necessary mapping to keep you on the right track.