FSA will have ‘zero-tolerance’ RDR exam stance

Rory Percival FSA

The FSA says it will have a “zero-tolerance” policy towards advisers who have not attained a QCF level four qualification by the RDR deadline.

FSA technical specialist Rory Percival says the regulator will offer no flexibility for advisers who have not achieved the minimum qualification requirements on 1 January.

Percival (pictured) says: “People getting their qualifications is a zero-tolerance policy area. If you do not have all of your relevant qualifications by the start of 2013 then you will be required to send in your deauthorisation form.”

FSA figures published in April showed around 71 per cent of advisers had completed their qualifications, with around 22 per cent still studying.

The Chartered Insurance Institute and ifs School of Finance say they do not have estimates for advisers who are studying but may not meet the deadline.

Aifa says around 80 advisers who have signed up to its case-study based exam have not yet booked an exam slot.

In September, FCA chief executive designate Martin Wheatley pledged to stick to the RDR deadline of 1 January, but added the regulator will be “proportionate” in its supervision of advisers.

Percival says the regulator will take a softer stance on firms that are taking time to get their business models right.

He says: “We will be more flexible in terms of how firms set their charges. That is something which could take a couple of attempts to get right, although we will take action if there is consumer detriment.”

Aifa policy director Chris Hannant says: “The FSA should show forbearance for advisers who are a long way down the qualifications track.

“Although they should not be giving advice, it seems excessive to deauthorise an adviser who has one exam left to sit in January or February only for them to have to go through the lengthy authorisation process two months later.”

Last month, the FSA said it had granted 18 waivers to miss the qualification deadline by 12 months mainly because of spousal bereavement, the ill health of an adviser of ill health of a spouse or child where the adviser has acted as carer. It said it had received 47 applications for a delay with six currently under consideration, 21 already withdrawn and two rejected.