The financial regulator has granted an additional year for advisers to complete professional qualifications as providers cancel exams in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
In an update on its website the Financial Conduct Authority said it would not take action against any advice firm where an employee was delayed in gaining an appropriate qualification because exams were postponed or cancelled during the national lockdown.
Instead the watchdog has granted an additional 12 months to complete qualifications and asked firms to record any reason why an employee has been allowed the extension.
The regulator said: "During the period linked to the emergency, we still require firms to ensure that all employees have the skills, knowledge and expertise needed to discharge their responsibilities.
"However, we have no intention of taking action against a firm or accountable individual that is not able to ensure that an employee has attained an appropriate qualification within the required 48 months because the relevant examinations were cancelled or postponed."
Accredited bodies and providers have moved to cancel or rearrange upcoming exams on mass as a result of the current social distancing measures in place across the UK, including the Chartered Insurance Institute and Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment.
The FCA warned some providers had "no specific arrangements in place" to reschedule exams and this would have an impact on firms ensuring their employees had appropriate qualifications in line with regulatory requirements.
Under the usual FCA rules, if an employee provides advice their firm must ensure they have an appropriate qualification within 48 months.
The watchdog said it would adopt this approach for six months, until the end of October this year, meaning firms could apply a time limit of 60 months where exams had been cancelled or postponed.
The FCA said: "A firm’s affected employees include those employees that have a set - registered or booked - examination date which was cancelled or postponed by the examination provider or by the firm."
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