The launch of the new level 4 certificate in Pension Transfers Advice was first announced in November 2016 and it is intended to support those seeking to provide specialist advice, both domestically and internationally.
Client demand for pension transfers has been on a persistent upward trajectory since the introduction of the pension freedoms in April 2015.
Recent figures released under a Freedom of Information request show that the number of UK firms authorised to conduct pension transfers rose 17% to 4,177 between April 2016 and April 2017.
While data from HM Revenue & Customs also found that more money had been accessed in 2Q17 than in any quarter since 2Q15.
The new CII qualification has four compulsory units; including a new advanced level 6 unit: (AF7) Pension transfers.
Also included are three existing CII level 4 units: (R01) Financial services, regulation and ethics; (R02) Investment principles and risk; and (R04) Pensions and retirement planning.
Pension transfer specialist
Some 7,000 CII statement of professional standing (SPS) holders are qualified to provide pension transfer advice, holding either the withdrawn CII unit (G60) Pensions or current CII unit (AF3) Pension planning.
The professional body says the new certificate provides advisers with the skills and qualifications required to operate as a pension transfer specialist.
Advisers who hold the CII Diploma in Financial Planning, but not G60 or AF3, will be able 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 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 Together, the two new units will replace AF3, which will be withdrawn in April 2018.
Renewed focus on qualifications
Keith Richards, CII managing director of engagement and chief executive of the Personal Finance Society, said: “We are delighted so many have pursued these qualifications to gain the in depth enhanced knowledge required to ensure they can help their clients achieve the best outcomes in seeking financial security in retirement.
“It is understandable that the FCA renewed its focus on the qualifications, experience and continuing professional development requirements for pension transfer specialists but our members told us what they wanted ahead of the regulator demonstrating how far the profession has advanced.
“Our new dedicated pension transfer exam unit is client focused and has been developed in the spirit of the FCA’s current consultation,” he said.