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By Marc Shoffman | Published Aug 15, 2012

IFA hits out over CII, IFS RDR diploma inconsistency

The Institute of Financial Services and the Chartered Insurance Institute have been accused of “money grabbing” after they made it costly and difficult for an IFA to transfer between them.

Michelle Meredith, IFA for Hampshire-based Archway Financial Solutions, claimed she was faced with a raft of administrative costs from both bodies, which amounted to more than £340.

She said: “It seems very much like money grabbing. It is highly frustrating as it seems like a relatively simple exercise.”

The problems arose when she tried to join the CII but was told by the CII that her IFS level four Diploma for Financial Advisers was not at the same level as its own Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning - despite the FSA approving both qualifications for the retail distribution review.

Ms Meredith said: “I was advised by the CII that typically someone coming from the IFS to the CII with the DipFA would only be entitled to the R01 and R06 CII exams.

“I would need another 30 diploma points from the CII in order to get its equivalent diploma.”

She said if she took the exam route, this would cost her more than £300, including study texts and the exam sessions, or she would have to give up time at work for gap-fill.

On top of this, Ms Meredith required a record of achievement from the IFS to show the CII her qualification, but was charged £45 for it.

Ms Meredith said: “I wanted to join the CII because of its link to the Personal Finance Society and access to local meetings.

“The whole process has been highly frustrating and the lack of consistency between different exam providers needs to be addressed.

“The fact that the IFS had the audacity to charge me £45 for an A4 piece of paper that contains a couple of small paragraphs and a table of my results astounds me.”

Ms Meredith said she has been left with the impression that either the IFS diploma is not as good as the CII’s or the CII diploma is set too high.

She claimed: “The diplomas are, after all, on the same level of difficulty, but it seems the CII is making people take further exams as a way of creating further revenue for itself.”

A spokesman for Ofqual, said: “We only set the standard. We never say qualifications are equivalent, just that they are broadly comparable.”

When asked why it would require more money for advisers to transfer, a spokesman for the CII said: “The CII and PFS are here to provide a customer with confidence in qualifications and advice. We have to make sure standards are consistent across all qualifications and members.

“When comparing accredited bodies, we have to take into account the assessment and method of testing.

“Our accreditation team will not just look at advisory qualifications but also degrees. We also bring in experts and professionals from outside the CII.”

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