The Chartered Insurance Institute is updating its pension transfers qualification following the UK financial regulator’s proposals to tighten the rules in this area.
Following on from the Financial Conduct Authority’s tougher new proposals requiting to pension transfers, as reported, a new Level 4 Certificate in Pension Transfers Advice, that includes a new Level 6 unit (AF7) Pension transfers, will be open for enrolments in August 2017.
The updated exam also includes the three existing CII Level 4 units – (R01) Financial services, regulation and ethics, (R02) Investment principles and risk and (R04) Pensions and retirement planning, the CII said.
Keith Richards, chief executive of the Personal Finance Society and the CII’s managing director of engagement, said: “The transfer of safeguarded benefits is an increasingly complex area, and so in the interests of consumers and the advice profession, we support the FCA’s renewed focus on the qualifications, experience and continuing professional development requirements for pension transfer specialists.
“We are committed to delivering the in-depth knowledge and practical skills required by those seeking to advise on pension transfers, an increasingly important part of the advice process following the government’s pension reforms.
“Our new dedicated pension transfer exam unit is client focused, and has been developed in the spirit of the FCA’s current consultation, which we will formally respond to.”
The launch of the new qualification follows the FCA’s interim findings of its retirement outcomes review. The UK’s watchdog said that just over half of over-55s who had accessed their pension pots had fully drained them, while 30% of consumers go into drawdown without getting guidance.
7,000 currently qualified
Around 7,000 CII statement of professional standing holders are qualified to provide pension transfer advice, holding either the withdrawn CII unit (G60) pensions or current CII unit (AF3) ension planning.
Advisers who hold the CII Diploma in Financial Planning, but not G60 or AF3, will now just need to complete AF7 in order to become qualified pension transfer specialists.
The CII has also recommended that holders of AF3 or G60 would also see benefit from obtaining AF7 to develop their knowledge in this area.
As well as this new qualification, the CII will also introduce a new Level 6 Advanced Diploma unit (AF8) Retirement income planning in October, covering aspects of pension planning not covered in AF7, it said.
Together, the two new units will replace AF3, which will be withdrawn in April 2018.