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IFS exam set to lure students into level 4

The IFS is part of the ifs School of Finance and its launch follows a successful pilot last year. The Certificate in Financial Administration and Planning has been designed as an entry-level qualification for professionals starting a career in the financial advice industry or already working in paraplanning or administrative roles. The CeFAP will aim to be “a stepping stone qualification” for employers looking to develop staff into client-facing financial advice roles, the IFS said.

Anne Kiem, chief executive at the Institute, said: “We have developed this new qualification in response to an increasing demand from the industry for a QCF level three qualification in the financial advice market. It is designed with both paraplanners and those aspiring to be financial advisers in mind.”

She added the new level four qualification requirements of the RDR have meant that new entrants to the industry are facing quite a steep learning curve in becoming qualified.

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According to Ms Kiem, the qualification would enable students to understand the UK financial services environment, products, regulation and the legal framework, before tackling a level four qualification.

The CeFAP will cost £350. It has a recommended study time of between 200 and 240 hours and will be assessed in a two hour multiple choice exam.

Michael Wall, managing director of Beaumont Robinson, said: “In principle it is a good idea. It is a good idea to encourage younger people who perhaps have not gone to university into the sector.”

The firm currently has three trainees going through a level three apprenticeship scheme.

Mr Wall said the firm’s view was the trainees were simply not ready to be financial advisers because they did not have the maturity or the experience.

He added: “Putting them straight through level four gives the wrong message. Qualifications do not make an adviser. There has to be workplace experience built in alongside and it would be roughly four years before we would put them in front of clients.”

Peter Williams, former head of industry development at Aegon, said there was a place for level three particularly because many younger people may not go through university with the increased fees.

He said: “This is a good way into the industry because different individuals will be of varying calibres. That said if you are a graduate and you are bright I would go straight into level four because that is the requirement now. But there are many different ways to become an adviser and level three to start off with is sensible but this does already exist with the CII. I am fully supportive of more choice because people should have options.”