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Keep your sword sharpened

This article is part of
Training & Qualifications - January 2013

I am an advocate of not just maintaining standards but of constantly striving to take things to the next level in progression. Keep your sword sharpened I say.

Although every person in a practice should have a development plan, from this year, retail investment advisers’ CPD will be under the spotlight more than ever. Now we have the official introduction of accredited bodies, minimum structured and unstructured CPD hours, independence with broader CPD requirements, and the Statement of Professional Standing - a necessary document to practise.

What follows is an overview of the key CPD requirements and a consideration of issues related to the new regime.

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To show competence to their chosen accredited body, advisers should be able to demonstrate that they have:

• Addressed any learning gaps in their technical knowledge.

• Acquired knowledge so that they continue to meet their FSA requirements.

• Conducted these activities in a measurable fashion.

• Ensured that any such activities are capable of being verified by an accredited body.

• Demonstrated the ability to generate good quality management information.

In addition any such programme would need to:

• Enable advisers to complete programmes of structured and unstructured learning specifically produced to bridge gaps in their knowledge and meet their learning outcomes.

• Be e-measurable, for example a seminar with quantifiable attended hours.

• Provide access to a broad range of appropriate e-learning packages specifically designed to meet the appropriate learning outcomes, particularly useful for some advisers.

• Be capable of being verified by an accredited body.

• Have the ability to allow individuals to participate in seminars that have been specifically designed to meet particular learning outcomes.

When including seminars within the structured hours’ content, it is no longer acceptable to simply provide a certificate of attendance. A provider of CPD must be able to present advisers with the ability to demonstrate that they have learned, or further developed, relevant knowledge or skills. Please note that CPD does not have to be accredited for it to be recognised, but it does carry kudos.

CPD should be relevant to the adviser’s current and future role and professional development. As CPD is an individual requirement, not firm specific, advisers can focus on the outcomes relevant to their role. It is also important to note that some areas - such as protection, mortgages or equity release - are not covered in the RDR syllabus and are excluded for SPS purposes.

The FSA has defined structured CPD as “an activity that uses material or activities that are designed to achieve a particular learning outcome and capable of being independently verified”. They have also stated that each activity should require a contribution of 30 minutes or more. This can include participating in seminars, conferences, workshops, courses, and of course completing appropriate e-learning. Meanwhile, educational reading, to meet the required learning outcome, is also acceptable as a minority activity.

Structured CPD does not have to have a testing mechanism, however this facility could prove to be a good way to demonstrate an individual’s understanding. It also does not include carrying out research on products and services for your clients. The structured arena is where the bulk of your CPD time will be focused, and as stated earlier, a minimum of 21 hours need to be completed and evidenced.