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By Julia Bradshaw | Published Aug 01, 2012

Demand from IFAs drives IFS to raise bar on quals

Her comments came as ifs School of Finance raised the bar on professional standards with the introduction of a QCF level six qualification for IFAs.

Ms Kiem said the decision to create the advanced diploma in financial advice, will be launch in October for distance learning, came in response to demand from members and the industry for a more stringent qualification that would set a gold standard.

She said: “People have been coming to us asking us to do more, so we’re actually just responding to a demand that is out there.”

Those who complete it successfully will be eligible for chartered status. In order to achieve started status, they must have attained level six, at least two years relevant experience, they must be a member and commit to doing CPD every year.

Asked whether QCF level six would soon become the new minimum criteria in the eyes of the regulator, Ms Kiem said it was too early to tell as many IFAs are still trying to get to level four and there is still some uncertainty as to what the new Financial Conduct Authority would focus on.

However, she added: “The more people who have chartered status, the harder it will be to justify why you don’t have it, but making it the regulatory minimum standard is some way off.”

Ms Kiem explained that the advanced diploma is aimed at advisers who want to differentiate themselves from their peers and demonstrate their commitment to professional development and standards by going beyond the threshold qualification level.

She said: “The diploma has a practical application, strong research bias and collaborative approach, all guided by tutor support.

“Demonstrating high professional standards is key in today’s environment. Through its design and academic rigour, coupled with chartered status, the qualification offers advisers the ideal way to demonstrate this.”

The diploma is structured around three mandatory units covering managing investments, wealth management services and taxation, trust and tax compliance.

Advisers can then choose two further units out of three options: pension transfers, strategic management in financial services and later life planning and advice.

To be eligible for the programme, applicants must already hold a QCF level 4 qualification.

The total cost of obtaining the diploma is £2125, with each of the five units costing £425. The cost is the same for members and non-members. Although automatic membership is included in registration, you don’t have to be a member to get the qualification without the chartered status.

The ifs has estimated study time will take 12 to 18 months, working part time.

Ms Kiem said: “For something at this level you would expect to put in quite a bit of work.”

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