Level 4 – Are you on course?



As some predicted, RDR has crept up with alarming speed, and as an industry there is a mere 15 months left to ensure that all IFAs who want to continue giving financial advice have achieved Level 4 status. Wellplaced sources currently indicate that only 50% of IFAs have actually achieved this – which leaves an alarming 50% who are still struggling on the exam route or haven’t yet started. The time for waiting for the FSA to back down on RDR is well and truly over.

Although there have been many calls for the FSA to extend the deadline, or alternatively to allow grandfathering as they did for N2, it would appear that the FSA are holding firm and it now looks increasingly unlikely that there will be any concessions. Having said that, there must be concern within the FSA that, in these difficult economic times when the general public need more access to financial advice/ planning rather than less, there will be a severe shortage of those qualified to provide it!

So how are the networks going to ensure that on 1 January 2013 they have a fully functioning and appropriately qualified workforce in place? Many of the networks are beginning to realise that leaving people to make their own exam choices in their own time just isn’t working. And they have become increasingly proactive in selecting an examination route of choice, running study work shops and organising exam technique days.

There are various RDR exam routes to choose: CII’s Diploma in Financial Planning and Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning, IFS School of Finance, and the AIFA/CIOBS Diploma in Investment Planning, to name just a few. If you are unsure which exam route is right for you, then you should contact the institutes who will be only too happy to explain their exam approach to you. There are also a wealth of independent training providers who can give you advice on the range of examinations available and help you select the route that most closely matches your learning style.

Whatever exam route you choose, it is important to remember that all the exams available are there to test you can apply your knowledge and provide sound financial advice – something most people have successfully done for years! Many people will fear having to sit exams again after so long out of the classroom, but it’s important to remember that you are being examined on what you already know.

Sadly there are many IFAs who will read this and decide to think about it “later”. In 6 months from now, “later” could well have become “too late”.

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