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Financial advisers can defer CPD to next year

While BMO Global Asset Management rolls out CPD tracking tool


The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has told financial advisers they will be able to carry over their continuing professional development (CPD) requirements to next year because of the covid-19 outbreak. 

The watchdog said it still expects firms and individuals to remain competent to carry out their work.

And those on furlough or working from home should continue completing their CPD; as regulators, accredited bodies and qualifications providers are making this type of material available. 

“But we also recognise that there could be exceptional circumstances when individuals may have difficulty completing the required minimum CPD hours,” the FCA said.

The watchdog expects this to have an impact on firms: 

  • That must ensure their retail investment advisers complete the required minimum 35 hours of CPD and get independent verification from an accredited body that the firm has met this requirement;  
  • Carrying on insurance distribution activities, which must ensure that each relevant employee completes a minimum of 15 hours of professional training or development in each 12-month period. 

‘Exceptional circumstances’ 

The watchdog stated: “So, during the current situation we will temporarily allow firms to let individuals in exceptional circumstances carry over any uncompleted CPD hours to the next CPD year, ie the next 12-month period in which to complete the relevant CPD.

“This applies to CPD years ending before 1 April 2021.

The outstanding hours will be added to the ones required for each 12-month period – 35 for financial advisers and at least 15 for insurance distribution activities. 

Keeping up to date with coronavirus-related regulatory developments could also count towards individuals’ CPD, the FCA added. 

But what circumstances are deemed exceptional? 

The regulator said the deferral applies if, throughout the pandemic, individuals: 

  • Are needed to carry out extra duties to manage risks, and/or to provide support, to consumers and businesses; 
  • Have caring responsibilities, such as having to care for a partner, child, parent, grandparent or sibling; 
  • Have difficulties accessing CPD material, for example, due to technical issues or unavailable material; or, 
  • Where it is not realistic to expect the individual also to fulfil the CPD requirements. 

The sensible thing to do 

Commenting on the move, Keith Richards, chief executive of the Personal Finance Society, said: “We welcome this further acknowledgement from the FCA that some advisers will have genuine difficulties completing CPD at this time, and it also means that we don’t have to add further stress or unnecessary pressure on individuals, just because the rules weren’t written for a pandemic. 

“I believe this is a sensible position for the FCA to take, as it allows flexibility and discretion; but of course should not be seen by firms or advisers as an option not to complete their CPD obligations where possible.  

I am pleased to say that the majority generally exceed the minimum hours required annually; so, even with the current impact, may not have to rely on the flexibility introduced by the regulator and, of course, for others the current situation may mean that they have had more time to complete CPD activities. 

“For advisers who do need to defer CPD compliance into 2021, [they] need to bear in mind that any gap for 2020 will need to be made up during 2021, he added. 

Online ‘more important than ever’ 

With prescient timing, BMO Global Asset Management (BMO GAM) has rolled out a CPD tracking tool for financial advisers in the UK. 

Microsite BMO Adviser Edge has been enhanced so that users can earn and evidence time spent on both structured and unstructured CPD activity. 

The firm said that all structured CPD is independently accredited by the London Institute of Banking & Finance. 

BMO Adviser Edge was originally unveiled in November 2019, with content provided by both the asset management company and external contributors. 

Mark Parry, head of strategic and technical sales at BMO GAM, said: “We launched BMO Adviser Edge in response to adviser demand and have been pleased to see a number of advisers already benefitting in the initial months following launch.  

“We are focused on bringing engaging learning to advisers, to help navigate complex financial planning and investment themes.  

“The CPD functionality solidifies BMO Adviser Edge as a go to hub for the adviser community. We are continuing to support advisers during the current period, where online learning tools are more important than ever.” 


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