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Adviser Qualifications

For a long period of time, financial advisers have gained various qualifications to assist their businesses and their own personal levels of expertise. Although the majority of these qualifications have been optional, it has been common for advisers to achieve basic levels of qualification to provide confidence to their customers.

Over recent years, regulatory changes within financial services have made it necessary for financial adviser qualifications to be re-classified and categorised to make it easier for advisers and consumers to understand.

Financial adviser qualifications are now generally classified by the rules of the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) and regulated by Ofqual, who are the regulator of qualifications, examinations and assessments in England and vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland. A financial adviser who has obtained a QCF Level 3 qualification would be deemed to have reached Certification Level, an adviser who has obtained a QCF Level 4 qualification would be deemed to have reached Diploma Level and an adviser who has obtained a QCF Level 6 qualification would be deemed to have reached Chartered Level.

Following the implementation of the Retail Distribution Review on 31st December 2012, it is now necessary for any financial advisers offering investment advice to be qualified to the QCF Level 4 benchmark, or Diploma Level, in an aim to increase professionalism for the benefit of consumers.

There are also however, some product areas that require advisers to obtain certain specialist qualifications in order to provide advice in these areas such as occupational pension schemes or long term care.

The most well known institute to offer financial advice qualifications in the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and there are a number of similar institutes to offer equivalent qualifications. These professional bodies offer designatory titles that advisers can use once they have reached certified, diploma or chartered levels. Advisers can also join various institutes and associations such as the Personal Finance Society (PFS) or the Association of Independent Financial Advisers (AIFA) in order to provide ongoing support and professional advancement for advisers.

Financial adviser firms who subscribe to this website have the option to add the qualification level of their advisers to their profile. This will therefore display their commitment to engaging with customers and thus improving customer confidence.

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