The regulator indicated that it would focus on the completion of the level 1 REs, and particularly RE 1 and RE 5 before making any further announcements on the next level of regulatory exams.
There are, of course, still some of the level 1 exams that have not yet reached its “write –by” dates, such as RE 3 and 4. Still outstanding is RE 2 and the compliance officer REs.
Please note that the “final date” does not mean that any exam is now closed. The exams will be available on an on-going basis, for new entrants as well as those who need to re-write it.
The level 1 REs proved to be a fertile learning ground, not only for candidates, but also for the Regulator and the examination bodies. As in any new venture, not all possibilities could be foreseen, despite thorough research before the launch in November 2010.
Hopefully, the lessons learnt will be applied to make the next phase an experience that candidates will view as more of a value-add than a burden.
One such lesson should concern study material. If at all possible, one would like to see a standard legislation handbook per exam, with cross referencing to the qualifying criteria. This will assist greatly in candidates being able to focus on the essence of what they need to know, and serve as a source of reference after the exam.
A major problem in the run-up to December 2009 (the 30 or 60 credit deadline) was that it was extremely difficult to effectively control the quality of training. This, in fact, proved to be one of the main reasons for the introduction of the regulatory exams.
Most of us have great difficulty in reading and interpreting legislation. Providing a standard preparation kit will lead to achieving the desired outcome – Knowledgeable advisors.
A second issue concerns the existing skills and knowledge levels of intermediaries. A common objection to the level 1 REs came from those who felt that there was little or no recognition of their experience. As pointed out so often in the past, one’s experience is not really a factor in one’s understanding of the FAIS Act, and ability to apply this knowledge.
Most advisors will be on far more familiar terrain when it comes to level 2. Just bear in mind, though, that the content will be based on the legislation applicable to the various licence categories, not product knowledge, per se.
Then there is the matter of qualifications that advisors obtained over the years. Again, the difficulty in distinguishing between those that covered in enough detail what one needs to know (or specific, as termed by the regulator), versus the so-called generic qualifications, will remain a contentious issue.
Some training service providers have aligned their courses to be 100% compatible with the qualifying criteria, and these will prove to be of great value in learners obtaining the required knowledge levels. Certain “older” qualifications have already been identified as being sufficient for certain licence categories, and more will be added as they become available.
In the level 1 REs, there were no exemptions for prior learning. With level 2, this is now possible. The process for applying for such an exemption will possibly be announced with the roll-out of the level 2 REs.
If you have ideas or suggestions on how the level 2 REs can be improved, you are very welcome to share them with us. We will ensure that it gets to the right source for consideration.
Unfortunately, scrapping the level 2 REs is a suggestion that is unlikely to succeed.