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By Marc Shoffman | Published May 30, 2012

Ofqual concerns on RDR addressed: FSA

A spokesman for the City watchdog said its own reviews of qualifications have concluded that the exams were appropriate.

He said: “Ofqual is satisfied that everyone who undertakes level four demonstrates significant knowledge and skill.

“Our own reviews of these qualifications satisfies us that the learning outcomes and the content is up to scratch. We are satisfied the initial concerns that were raised have been addressed.”

A 20-page report by Ofqual, Findings from the Review of Level 4 Retail Investment Adviser Qualifications, assessed sample papers from accredited bodies and identified issues with some exams and pass marks.

It said: “Our scrutiny showed that all of the qualifications we looked at cover the learning outcomes appropriately and, although assessment methods varied across the qualifications, all learning outcomes were covered in the live assessments that we reviewed. We were concerned that the pass marks for some of the written application units were relatively low at between 50 to 60 per cent compared to other units in the qualification where the pass marks were 65 to 70 per cent.

“The awarding organisations have assured us the qualifications, as a combination of all the units, sufficiently assess all of the required knowledge and application of skills required to be a competent adviser.”

Assessing the Chartered Insurance Institute, the report said: “The CII level-four diploma in regulated financial planning did not cover a number of assessment criteria in the following units: R01 financial services, regulation and ethic, R02 investment principles and risk, R04 pensions and retirement planning, and R05 financial protection.”

Jamie Heath, chief operating officer of the CII, said: “Ofqual identified a few issues in sample papers. It is happy with changes we made.”

The report also expressed concern regarding multiple choice questions from the Institute of Financial Services. A spokesman for the IFS said: “We have responded to the minor points raised by Ofqual to its satisfaction.”

The report also revealed that Ofqual had told Edexcel to add a line to the specification of its Level Four Certificate for Financial Advisers to make it clear that it was not an FSA-approved appropriate examination.

The Edexcel documentation read: “The Edexcel Level 4 Certificate for Financial Advisers is not an FSA-approved Appropriate Examination. Instead, the Edexcel qualification assumes that learners have already acquired the relevant knowledge from taking an appropriate examination, and assesses learners’ ability to apply that knowledge in the workplace.”

An Ofqual spokesman said: “All issues identified were addressed by the awarding bodies and there were no outstanding issues.”

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