Debbie Gupta, who holds the position of ‘co-director for financial advice and life insurance’ at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has praised advisory firms for their willingness to embrace professionalism and higher standards.

Financial services has traditionally been described as an ‘industry’, whilst the legal and accountancy fields have been seen as ‘professions’. One of the main ways in which financial advisers can improve things in this respect is to study for the necessary examinations to attain Chartered Financial Planner status. These examinations are considered to be QCF Level 6 qualifications, equivalent to an undergraduate degree.

Speaking to trade publication Money Marketing, Ms Gupta was asked what, in her opinion, was the most encouraging trend at the present time, and she replied that it was advisers’ focus on improving professionalism. She added that an increasing number of advisers were seeking Chartered status, and also that more advisers were attending professional development events.

However, she noted that “financial professionals are consistently rated as less trustworthy than, for example, healthcare or other public service professionals”.

Ms Gupta’s recommendations for financial advisers include:

  • They should tailor their investment propositions to match the needs of individual clients
  • They should ensure they clearly disclose their costs and charges in line with FCA requirements
  • They should bear in mind that many consumers are now reliant on retirement income to maintain their desired standard of living, and that the average consumer is often bewildered by the sheer variety of available products and options
  • They should ensure that their investment propositions adapt to regulatory and market changes
  • They should ensure that their corporate culture is once that serves the best interests of their clients, and that advisers seek to “do the right thing” even when there is no specific FCA rule or guidance to dictate what they should do
  • They must ensure they act in the best interests of vulnerable customers

At the present time, it is only necessary to be qualified to Level 4 to give pensions and investment advice in the UK. In most cases, being qualified to Level 4 means passing either the Diploma for Financial Advisers offered by the London Institute of Banking & Finance (LIBF), or the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning from the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII).

With a Level 4 qualification being the minimum requirement to give advice, advisers who wish to stand out from the crowd need to obtain a higher-level qualification. At Level 6, the CII offers the Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning, while the LIBF has two study programmes at this level; the Advanced Diploma in Financial Advice and the Pension Transfers programme.

Whilst the basic requirement to give mortgage advice can be satisfied by passing the LIBF’s Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice (CeMAP), or the CII’s Certificate in Mortgage Advice, both of which are Level 3 qualifications, mortgage advisers can also attain higher level qualifications. Here the LIBF offers the CeMAP Diploma and the CII the Certificate in Advanced Mortgage Advice, both of which are Level 4 examinations.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article