The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) is preparing the launch
of a new pension transfers qualification following the Financial
Conduct Authority's (FCA) proposals to tighten the advice
requirements for the transfer of safeguarded benefits.
The Level 4 Certificate in Pension Transfers Advice includes a
new Level 6 unit (AF7) Pension transfers - which will open for
enrolments in August 2017 - and three existing CII Level 4 units -
(R01)Financial services, regulation and ethics,(R02)Investment
principles and risk and (R04) Pensions and retirement planning.
CII managing director of engagement and chief executive of the
Personal Finance Society, Keith Richards, welcomed the FCA's
proposals and said the CII would work closely with the regulator to
ensure pension transfer specialists were equipped with any new
qualification and knowledge requirements resulting from the current
"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 CII's new qualification follows the FCA's
warnings earlier this week that withdrawing money from pension pots
had become "the new norm" following the pension freedom reforms of
2015. The regulator's interim findings of itsRetirement Outcomes
Reviewfound that just over half of over-55s had fully drained their
pension pots, while 30% of consumers go into drawdown without
getting guidance. That compares with just 5% before pension
Mr Richards said: "The FCA has identified a range of possible
measures to address some of the emerging issues including
implementation of additional protections for consumers who buy
drawdown without advice."
"We welcome the FCA's renewed focus on the evolving retirement
market, and will work with regulator to secure an appropriate
balance of consumer protection and freedom of choice. Appropriate
advice requirements will form an important part of the solution,
and our new qualification will ensure advisers are well placed to
support consumers seeking financial security in retirement."
Some 7,000 CII SPS holders are qualified to provide pension
transfer advice, holding either withdrawn CII unit (G60) Pensions
or current CII unit (AF3) Pension planning. The new Certificate
provides advisers with the skills and qualifications required to
operate as a pension transfer specialist.
Advisers who hold the 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. Current holders of AF3 or G60 will also benefit from
undertaking AF7, by developing their knowledge in the specialist
area of pension transfers.
The CII will also introduce a new Level 6 Advanced Diploma unit
(AF8) Retirement income planning in October 2017, covering aspects
of pension planning not covered in AF7. Together, the two new units
will replace AF3, which will be withdrawn in April 2018.
For more information on the new Certificate in Pension Transfers
and related pension unit developments visit www.cii.co.uk/fp-developments