The Financial Services Authority (FSA) intends to drop its requirement that intermediaries pass an FSA ‘approved’ examination and replace it with a wider requirement for an ‘appropriate’ qualification. The new flexibility in choice of training and competence qualifications for mortgage firms is contained in the FSA’s Consultation Paper 194, which also puts forward consultation proposals for the content of mortgage sales exams, including those for lifetime mortgages.
Advisers who meet the Mortgage Code Compliance Board’s fitness and competence requirements will not be required to retake exams, post regulation. However, exams will be required for general mortgage market entrants and advised sales of lifetime mortgages, also covering home reversion schemes. For non-advised sales of lifetime mortgages, designers of scripted questions and supervisors of staff asking scripted questions must also pass an exam.
James Mayne, director of compliance services at Competent Adviser, commented: ‘There needs to be a separate examination for lifetime mortgages, and the FSA’s consulting on syllabus is also good, there has been some criticism that the current exams are not up to date with the market.’
The appropriate exams list will be held by the Skills Council for Financial Services, and the FSA will work closely with the council and with intermediary firms to ensure appropriate standards.
Mayne said: ‘I do not think it is necessarily a regulator’s job to determine core skills and requirements for advisers, so this is an excellent move. However this offers firms much more flexibility when in fact at the moment what many of them are looking for is certainty.’