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Take level 4 advice exams before the FCA steps in

by: Bob Hunt
  • 02/09/2014
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Take level 4 advice exams before the FCA steps in
With all the debate surrounding the MMR and the requirements and responsibilities placed upon lenders to ensure their staff had the requisite financial qualifications, it is perhaps understandable that the issue of mortgage adviser qualification levels have been placed on the back burner.

Despite many comments suggesting that a move up the qualification curve is not on the FCA’s agenda anytime soon, one cannot escape the feeling that the regulator won’t maintain the status quo for much longer.

At present, advisers are only required to have a level three qualification in mortgage advice but I have long believed that it will only be a matter of time before the requirements will be increased. I have no inside knowledge on when a decision might be made, and there’s no doubt the FCA has enough on its plate at the moment. However, it does seem clear that the direction of travel on qualifications for all financial services practitioners has been onward and upward.


Advisers can of course stay one step ahead of the regulator by ensuring they attain a level four qualification now and to that end they have been given something of a boost this week. The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) has launched its own level four certificate in advanced mortgage advice due to, it says, adviser demand for such a paper.

This augurs well for the future of the sector and proves many mortgage advisers are not satisfied with a level three qualification. And why not in an increasingly competitive sector to distinguish you from your peers.

The other positive is that advisers who already hold the level three certificate are only required to pass the new advanced module (RO7) to become level four qualified. This new module covers areas such as specialist lending and ‘offering advice to borrowers with complicated circumstances’ – comfortable areas for any experienced broker – so not too much of a stretch to pass the exam.

This new paper from the CII will be available in September, can be taken online, and the candidate will have the results immediately. So, no waiting around for weeks on end worrying if you’ve made the grade.

Get ahead of the regulatory curve by opting to gain the qualification now rather than later. If the FCA decides to make it mandatory, a deadline will be set and everyone will be in a mild lather about securing the qualification. Far better to do it in your own time now and enhance your existing skills rather than be forced into it later.

Bob Hunt is chief executive of Paradigm Mortgage Services

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