Defined Benefit  

CII launches pension transfer qualification

CII launches pension transfer qualification

The Chartered Insurance Institute has launched a qualification for advisers wishing to specialise in defined benefit pension transfers.

The Level 4 certificate will include a new Level 6 unit (AF7) on pension transfers, alongside the three existing level 4 units.

Those units are (R01) Financial services, regulation and ethics, (R02) Investment principles and risk and (R04) Pensions and retirement planning.

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It will be open for enrolments in July 2017, subject to regulatory approval.

The new qualification comes at a time of increasing demand for DB pension transfers as retirees seek to take advantage of pension freedoms.

However many advisers are reluctant to carry out the transfers, which can see pension scheme members give up valuable benefits linked to their DB scheme, for fear of later complaints.

The CII's development director Steve Jenkins, who designed the new qualification, said it would develop the in-depth knowledge and practical skills needed to advise on the transfer of safeguarded benefits.

“Greater freedom and choice for retirees and tighter controls around who needs to seek advice mean that pension transfers and related advice are now more relevant than ever.

"It is against this backdrop that we are stepping up our support, with a dedicated pension transfer qualification and exam unit,” he said.

Advisers with a CII Diploma in Financial Planning, but not G60 or AF3, will simply need to complete AF7 in order to become qualified pension transfer specialists.

AF7 involves 50 fewer learning hours than AF3 given its specific focus on pension transfers, the CII said.

Kim Barrett, a financial planner at Barretts Financial Solutions, said he was "slightly bemused" that the new AF7 required fewer learning hours than the existing AF3 exam, adding that he hoped it not mean standards were decreasing.

"The more you dumb things down, the more you lower standards."

He pointed out, however, that the existing transfer qualifications were designed before pension freedoms came in, and that the market had changed significantly since then.

james.fernyhough@ft.com