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Polishing up your act

  • 23/04/2002
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For advisers wanting to stay on top of the mortgage market and ahead of the competition, it may be worth taking a look at what CPD courses are on offer

Continuing professional development (CPD) is one area the mortgage market could do with brushing up on. CPD demonstrates an individual’s continued learning, allows them to take control of their career and provides valuable evidence of their commitment. Competition for positions can be fierce, and there are a diminishing number of opportunities. Those people who remain with one employer can face another problem, with some organisations offering fewer routes to progress.

At present, there are very few standardised programmes which brokers are able to complete. Although a number of commercial training organisations and industry bodies offer specialist programmes, it remains an area of neglect and is usually left in the hands of individual mortgage brokers to provide their own training for employees. According to Rob Clifford, managing director of Mortgageforce, the main factor attributing to this is a distinct lack of regulation for CPD ‘ but this could change.

‘There is no industry-wide scheme because there is no regulatory requirement to do continuing professional development for mortgage advisers yet. However, I think it is inevitable it will be a requirement by MCCB or the FSA,’ he says.

Clifford adds that under the Financial Services Act, IFAs not only have to become qualified, but are also required to keep a training log or record, which is similar to CPD. This formal approach has not yet been applied to mortgage advisers as yet, unless completing an in-house or additional training scheme.

Mortgageforce provides a CPD scheme for its employees and Clifford outlines the procedure: ‘Our programme is a combination of on-the-job assessments and training, such as field supervised client visits, role plays and coaching sessions. We also have multiple choice in-house written examinations which are mortgage related on a half-yearly basis and then monthly training and competence seminars which look at technical skills, product knowledge and customer service techniques.’

Advisers thinking about implementing a CPD programme for their employees should do their research first. ‘Mortgage advisers should be aware of some of the external consultancy firms who run courses. Their primary objective is sometimes money driven and advisers should deal with professionals who know the market and do not just want to make a fee,’ Clifford says.

‘Advisers should look at the guidance notes the Mortgage Code Compliance Board (MCCB) issues. There have been a lot of guidance notes about continuing professional development, so you don’t need specialist advice,’ he adds.

For those who have taken, and managed to pass, either the Certificate in Mortgage Advice (CeMAP) or the Mortgage Advice Qualification (MAQ) there is the opportunity for further study through a registered CPD course run by the Institute of Financial Services (IFS).

IFS defines CPD as: ‘The recognition of the systematic maintenance, improvement and broadening of skills, and the development of personal qualities necessary for the execution of professional, managerial and technical duties throughout a member’s career.’

It has three key elements:

• Systematic maintenance ‘ showing the learning is planned.

• Improving and broadening of skills ‘ developing the individual’s level of information and the ability to apply it correctly;

• Execution of professional, managerial and technical duties ‘ relevance to the individual’s job.

The programme requires those who join to undertake a minimum of 50 hours CPD every year. Most people actually do more than this, but the programme’s aim is to structure this and focus it towards future career needs. At the moment the programme is woefully under subscribed.

Karen Walden, head of the programme for the IFS, says: ‘The IFS register of people undergoing CPD with us is around 600, our target market for this would obviously be everybody, but its fair to say we would like to encourage more.’

CPD with IFS is a service to members and as such is part of the annual membership fee of the Chartered Institute of Bankers and is open to all ‘ regardless of qualification. Those who enrol will be sent a personal record card and a CPD file containing information on the programme and ways you can plan your development. Almost any method of learning will count towards the scheme and there are eight categories, from further qualifications to serving on committees.

Once you have completed the 50 hours learning, of which at least seven hours must be gained in set categories, you send in your card to IFS for registration. Confirmation that you have satisfied the CPD requirements, together with a certificate of completion, will be sent back to you.

Other organisations and institutes may also be helpful. The Chartered Insurance Institute’s (CII), for example, are a source of CPD. CII courses may count as structured CPD where they are relevant to an individual’s needs. The CII will provide a certificate of attendance specifying the course and the training hours on request.

Adele Burton and Paul Robertson are staff writers

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