My 15-year-old son recently announced he would like to leave school immediately after taking his GCSEs next May.
After considering how I might spend the money I would get from the Tessa, which was to contribute to his time at university, I attended to his mother. You will understand that she had fainted at the thought, even though both she and I left school at 16 with a couple of ‘O’ levels between us.
Having put the thought of a new car behind me and having resuscitated my wife, I sat my son down for a chat. We discussed why he wanted to leave and it boiled down to two reasons ‘ he did not like his teachers and could not understand why he had to study German and Mathematics in order to become a professional footballer.
To cut a long story short, we finished up agreeing the best course of action would be for him to study hard during this academic year in order to, at least, give him the choice of staying on at school.
Passing the exams
So why am I telling you this? If you have already passed the necessary examinations to be able to give mortgage advice come January 2003, then you can stop reading. If, on the other hand, you have not yet got round to them, then this has a great deal to do with you.
The nub of the proposition to my son was that he must put himself in a position where he can take decisions, not a position where circumstances dictate to him. If he does well, he can decide whether to stay on or not, if he does not then he will have to leave. So it is with financial advisers; pass the examinations by December 2002 and you can decide whether to remain in the market or not ‘ if you do not pass them by that date, then you will have no alternative but to cease giving mortgage advice until you do.
Gaining a certified qualification
Fortunately, depending on your starting point, there are a number of options open to you:
The Institute of Financial Services (ifs) offers the Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice (CeMAP) to those who do not hold either the Certificate in Financial Advice (CeFA), or the Chartered Insurance Institute’s (CII) Financial Planning Certificate (FPC). The ifs also offers the CeMAP Bridge for those who already hold CeFA or FPC.
The CII offers the Mortgage Advice Qualification (MAQ), although in order to give mortgage advice after December 2002, anyone qualifying through MAQ will also have to hold either FPC or CeFA.
Weighing up the options
So which option is best for you? Clearly if you do not hold a regulatory qualification at present and have no intention, in the short term, of moving into the Financial Services Authority-regulated market, then CeMAP will be the quickest route to qualification. CeMAP consists of three separate papers:
• Paper One concerns itself with the broader financial services market.
• Paper Two examines the candidate’s deeper understanding of mortgage matters.
• Paper Three examines the candidate’s ability to apply their knowledge and understanding.
All three papers are two hours long and examined by multiple choice questions. They can be taken at Prometric test centres, of which there are about 200 situated around the country, which means there is no need to wait for the ifs to arrange examination sittings. You can simply ring up and book yourself into a centre.
For those of you holding FPC or CeFA, the decision is a little more difficult. You will remember you can either go for the ifs Bridge Paper, or the CII MAQ.
MAQ is a three-hour written examination consisting of 50 multiple choice questions and two case studies. The Bridge Paper is a two-hour exam delivered electronically at Prometric centres.
So there you have the choices and it is now time to put yourself into a position where you have the choice sooner rather than later.
Peter Bennett is managing director of Questionbank Management
l For more information about the ifs and the qualifications it offers, please call the customer and student services department on 01227 818 609, or email firstname.lastname@example.org quoting reference number SS027R.