The certificate will provide advisers with the skills and qualifications required to operate as a pension transfer specialist.
CII managing director of engagement and chief executive of the Personal Finance Society, Keith Richards, said: “The transfer of safeguarded benefits is an increasingly complex area, and so in the interests of consumers and the advice profession, we support the FCA’s renewed focus on the qualifications, experience and continuing professional development requirements for pension transfer specialists.”
The Level 4 Certificate in Pension Transfers Advice includes a new Level 6 unit (AF7) Pension transfers - which will open for enrolments in August 2017 - and three existing CII Level 4 units – (R01) Financial services, regulation and ethics, (R02) Investment principles and risk and (R04) Pensions and retirement planning.
Mr Richards said: “We are committed to delivering the in-depth knowledge and practical skills required by those seeking to advise on pension transfers, an increasingly important part of the advice process following the Government's pension reforms.
“Our new dedicated pension transfer exam unit is client focused, and has been developed in the spirit of the FCA’s current consultation, which we will formally respond to.”
The launch of the CII’s new qualification follows the FCA’s warnings earlier this week that withdrawing money from pension pots had become “the new norm” following the pension freedom reforms of 2015.
The regulator’s interim findings of its Retirement Outcomes Review found that just over half of over-55s had fully drained their pension pots, while 30% of consumers go into drawdown without getting guidance. That compares with just 5% before pension freedoms.
Some 7,000 CII SPS holders are qualified to provide pension transfer advice, holding either withdrawn CII unit (G60) Pensions or current CII unit (AF3) Pension planning.
Advisers who hold the CII Diploma in Financial Planning, but not G60 or AF3, will need to complete AF7 in order to become qualified pension transfer specialists. AF7 involves 50 fewer learning hours than AF3 given its specific focus on pension transfers. Current holders of AF3 or G60 will also benefit from undertaking AF7, by developing their knowledge in the specialist area of pension transfers, the CII stated.
The CII will also introduce a new Level 6 Advanced Diploma unit (AF8) Retirement income planning in October 2017, covering aspects of pension planning not covered in AF7. Together, the two new units will replace AF3, which will be withdrawn in April 2018.