The Financial Services Skills Council (FSSC) recently stated that it had developed plans to tackle what it perceived as a skills gaps in the financial sector.  So is there a skills gap in the financial sector, and specifically, in the mortgage advice industry?

Regardless of regulation from the Financial Services Authority (FSA), which delegates learn about in CeMAP training, and no matter how well supervised the industry is, there will always be those who break the rules.  Recently, there has been much in the media, and indeed in our own articles, about the action taken by the FSA against mortgage brokers.  It seems that most of these mortgage brokers were flagrantly breaking the rules.  It was not due to a lack of skills.

It certainly is not enough to just pass the CeMAP exams and assume you know everything.  To become a mortgage advisor, there are skills that need to be acquired and polished.

The majority of mortgage advisors are honest, skill professionals acting in the best interests of their customers.  These rogue advisors in the media are tainting the industry, so customers need to know that the mortgage advisor firm they are talking to takes advisor training seriously.

If the FSSC improves the skills of mortgage advisors then it can only do good to the public image of the industry and help firms demonstrate that they take it seriously.  The actions of the FSA recently have been down to lack of morals in these few individuals, not a lack of skills.

Mortgage advice has only been regulated for a few years.  Compare that with the financial advisor industry, regulated since 1988.  They have CeFA training and again, it is not enough to simply pass the CeFA exam.  Gradually over the years, morally corrupt financial advisors have been pushed out.  The mortgage advisor sector is receiving additional publicity because it affects more people, but it too is improving.

What the FSSC needs to do is to ensure that the skills training is relevant to the sector the advisor works in.  For example, income protection and critical illness insurance may be an area that many advisors should look at.  Many search for the cheapest plan rather than looking at the best value.  This is often driven by the client but advisors need to ensure they are aware of the difference in plans.

so it is important Compliance is an area that many financial advisors certainly spend more time on than study and research.  If skills gaps are plugged it is unlikely to reduce the amount of time needed for compliance and administrationto ensure that improving skills is effective and that advisors are not forced into ineffective or unsuitable training.

There is never an end to training anyway.  Rules and regulations change, and a rolling training programme is necessary to provide a good service.  CeMAP training is only the first step.