Those mortgage advisers yet to register for the Certificate in Mortgage Advice and practice (CeMAP), CeMap Bridge Paper, or the Mortgage Advice Qualification (MAQ) could be in danger of missing the final deadline of 31 December.
With just over seven months to register, study and pass these examinations, the mortgage industry is advising intermediaries to start studying, or risk only being able to offer information rather than advice next year.
Brad Baker, head of communications at the Mortgage Board Compliance Board (MCCB), says: ‘It is not too late for advisers ‘ if they act now. But if they leave it until half way through the year, they are taking a risk. They have probably got the time to sit them, but the issue is if they don’t pass, then they won’t have time to re-sit the exams.’
If advisers have the Financial Planning Certificate (FPC), they will only have to sit one paper ‘ either the MAQ or the CeMap Bridge Paper ‘ which will take less time than sitting all three papers, but at least 40 hours of study per paper is recommended, which can be a lot for advisers holding down a full-time job.
Rob Clifford, managing director of Mortgageforce, said that by the end of April 2002, 68% of Mortgageforce applicants had still not passed CeMap Paper two, three, or the Bridge Paper. He says: ‘This means these advisers are significantly far from being qualified by the deadline.’
Back to the books
For those brokers who have already sat one of the exams and failed, Tim Fox, head of marketing and public relations at the Institute of Financial Services (IFS), says exam technique could be letting them down.
He says: ‘Exam technique is an area advisers are failing on. Many have not sat an exam since ‘O levels’ so the routine of study and exams is presenting problems. Brokers need to study little and often. Rather than crunching lots of study into an evening or weekend, they will benefit more from an hour or 45 minutes each evening. They could also be tested on things which they don’t usually do in their daily work, which could cause problems.’
Once registered brokers will need to spend between 40 and 60 hours’ studying and Fox believes that it is vital advisers spend time looking at study materials.
‘Whichever exam they are doing the need to ensure they read the study manuals properly. One of the areas which people tend to fail on, is an in-depth knowledge of the Mortgage Code itself,’ says Fox.
Clifford believes a sense of apathy could cause some brokers to fail the exams. He says: ‘There is a feeling in the market that it does not matter, and that lenders won’t find out if they are unqualified ‘ but this is not true. Lenders will need to know that you are registered and qualified. They will check this and not accept your business unless you are. No-one will be given a period of grace.’
To help advisers pass the exams as soon as possible IFS has introduced electronic testing.
Fox explains: ‘We have introduced electronic testing for the Bridge Paper and Paper three, which means advisers do not have to wait weeks for the results, so if they fail they can re-register straight away.’
Those who are leaving their exams to the last minute can also look towards the relevant exam body for help.
Baker says: ‘Brokers who have left it this late, should seek guidance from the exam bodies on the best methods of study. There is a lot of support on offer, but it does cost more, they will provide CD-Rom packages and courses to aid study.’
As the deadline looms, advisers sitting the exams towards the end of the year also need to consider specific exam dates and whether they fit in with their schedule.
This is essential, as it is unlikely there will be any leeway on the final examination date, which could force some brokers to re-think their careers.
Baker adds: ‘We have said there will not be any leeway on the examination deadline. It does not mean that advisers have to stop working if they are not qualified. They may have the ability within the firm to adopt a supervision strategy with a supervisor, but if they are a sole trader, they will have to drop down to simply giving information. But we all know that customers don’t want information ‘ they want advice.’
Adele Burton is a staff writer