From: IFADUgooglegroups.com On Behalf Of grotblik
Sent: 24 July 2008 23:46
Subject: [IFADU] Re: Defence Union complains to EU over adviser qualifications
I've been thinking - never a good thing - and I thought the following.
Who should I send it to?
I was dismayed by the decision to introduce formalised examinations over and above those already in place for financial advisers. The premise for this dismay, you may be surprised to learn, is from the point of view of an educationalist. I am responsible for a generation of enquiring minds and my choice is simple - fill them with facts or fill them with wonder. The former can be looked up on the internet in a matter of seconds by almost every pupil under the age of 18. The latter is the black art that teaching has had to become.
Enquiring minds find solutions; those that can regurgitate facts based on outdated data can do, but lack the innovative spark needed to stay ahead.
For this country to maintain its dominance in financial services we need to stay one step ahead of the competition. An enquiring mind does this effortlessly.
The desire to produce examinations stifles this enquiring mind because there is only one solution for the examiner to mark against. Oddly enough the exam board may believe they have the best solution but the regulator's disagree*.
What appears to be happening is that a new set of standards are going to be introduced with no way for the IFA to know whether the ideas set out in the coursework will be given any credence when the crunch time comes - i.e. when a complaint comes in.
When an enquiring mind comes across this sort of anomaly it balks; it questions; it disagrees profoundly.
The Legal profession deals with enquiring minds in the best way possible - it allows them to have their say and to argue the thing out publicly.
What open court is available to IFAs? - IFADU have had to pursue the right to open hearings for some time now and it appears that they will have to fight for the right a little longer.
Assessment for learning is the ability for a pupil to look at how well they are doing as they progress BEFORE they attempt any significant examination hurdle. This ethos of knowing if you are doing things right or wrong is anathema to financial services regulation - if an IFA asks the FSA if they have correctly addressed a problem in advance - FSA will not give firm answers - evidence is in the public domain and can be found if IFADU is asked for it**. The evidence so far in the industry is that the regulator neither is aware of the real issues [what happens in practice rather than the right sounding words on a wet Wednesday afternoon meeting where a good decision relates to how well a Board member has fared against a rival - without thought for how much damage has been done to many innocents not in the room] nor does the Regulator care.
The children of today have a very acute understanding of what is right and wrong. They also have enquiring minds. I understand that the current Regulator wishes to introduce an examination system that tests the ability to answer out of date questions rather than examine an ability to adapt to the ever-changing marketplace. I also understand that the regulator wants to make this examination a threshold standard.
Being told in an exam that there is a direct rationale for a product and that is the basis for being given a license to trade would make most people think that by following those rules you could be allowed to progress in the industry, perhaps even enjoy the fruits of one's labours. To be told after the event that what you were examined on was not true would suggest a lack of respect towards the examinee that undermines the requirement for an exam in the first place.
I never refer to my pupils as Kids - they find it patronising (that means talking down to people) - instead I call them Ladies and Gentlemen. One pupil confronted me about a minor issue (not uncommon with intelligent
children) and said that I didn't respect her - I
asked: what do I refer to her as? When she realised that I always thought of her as a Lady, I suggested that she went away and came back, asking if I had at any point ever treated her with anything except respect. She came back feeling a little ashamed and I told her not to be - she is a child and is still growing and one day she will not need to fight against a lack of respect (being "dissed" is the vernacular). To be able to communicate in this way with a pupil demands a consistent and honest approach to all dealings with the person (pupil) in front of you - an important lesson for the Regulator if they too want the respect of the regulated.
I ask that the regulator thinks a little bit further ahead than their next wet Wednesday's afternoon meeting and thinks a little more carefully about who gains from the proposed exam regime. Is the Regulator giving a consistent approach to all future dealings with any with clients? Is this a sign of respect towards IFAs? Could it be that FSA has finally grasped the crown of leadership and accepted that by stating that the exams are necessary they are also saying that they have value? - If they are then look carefully at what that value truly is.
Think carefully about the following:
Should those that take the exam and always follow the procedure set out in the exam coursework should always be put forward as exemplars of best practice? If they have followed the procedures set out in the exam should they always be granted immunity from prosecution from FOS (or the next variation on a theme)?
Always is a loooong time.
If at this point you are thinking, "perhaps we should include exams more frequently" be clear to all about who will be examining the regulators that preside over decisions about complaints?
Will the Regulator finally accept that the rules regarding sales at the time of the sale prevail in a complaint? FSA state that the previous Ombudsman's or equivalent rules apply for sales preceding the incumbent Ombudsman - the reality is the opposite. If you don't believe me - check with IFADU for examples - there are many. Who is able to identify what rules apply? Who took the right exam at that time to deal with a case?
If the case arose from a sale in April 2010 and the rules changed in July 2010 (I've given two months clearance there) but the complaint does not arise for 10 years - can you (today's regulator) say to the enquiring minds of today that in 2020 what they were examined on in April 2010 was not correct? Is there a guarantee being given? Treating customers fairly is an ideal but so is the idea that the examination system will right the problems being experienced today in the future.
An enquiring mind will find you out and will bring you to account - as a teacher I know this as a given. It gives me comfort - I hope it does you as well.
*Cases brought before FOS have been decided against because a single person taking out their first mortgage would have been incorrectly advised because they had "no need of life cover". Ask IFADU for evidence if you do not believe me. Oddly enough this directly contradicted by the then main
"When assessing major protection needs, such as in relation to a mortgage, it is important to realise that these arise from the existence of a liability; the need is there, regardless of other circumstances connected with the mortgagor such as occupation, income or health. These other circumstances will naturally affect the underwriting of a protection policy and whether the mortgagor can afford it, but they do not affect the underlying need for protection, which remains." Chapter 1, Page 6, Financial Planning Certificate 2 Protection, Savings and Investment Products, Course Handbook C Chartered Insurance Institute, 1994.
"If the client was single with no dependants, the adviser will normally be able to identify the likelihood that he will have very little need for life cover......
.....the need for life cover might only extend to the cost of a funeral, although cover should always be effected for any loans."
Chapter 8, Pages 8 & 9, Financial Planning Certificate 1 -Financial Service And Their Regulation, Course Handbook C Chartered Insurance Institute, 1993.
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