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Continuing Professional Development – What’s the point?

5 February 2020

Catriona Standingford, MD of Brand Financial Training, looks at what CPD is, why it is so important and the role assessment testing can play.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is often seen as a necessary evil that financial services professionals must put up with but should we view CPD as something that genuinely matters rather than something that just adds to the stresses of their already busy working lives?

What is CPD?

There is a minimum requirement of 35 hours of CPD activity in a 12-month period for accredited paraplanners. Of those hours, 21 must be ‘structured’ which involves a formal learning activity with a specific learning outcome that is relevant to your role and meets your development needs. ‘Unstructured’ CPD can make up the remaining hours and whilst it must also be relevant to your role, it doesn’t have to be designed around your development needs.

Why CPD?

Not only does CPD evidence that a Paraplanner’s knowledge is current and the professional standards of their qualification are maintained but, perhaps more importantly, it demonstrates to the consumer that the financial services professional can be trusted to keep their knowledge and skills up-to-date and therefore provide the best service to them.

It also allows the business to demonstrate that standards throughout the company are consistently high which enhances the business’s reputation among clients.

The CII states, “CPD ensures that you, as a CII/PFS member, keep your skills and knowledge up-to-date and, in turn, remain competent to perform your job.”

Why assessment testing?

There is a great deal of debate about the importance and necessity of assessment testing and how this can be used as a practical and beneficial tool towards an individual’s CPD.

The FCA believes ‘good adviser knowledge is the foundation to giving sound financial advice’ and assessment testing ‘will identify areas of strength and weakness in technical knowledge’

To help with structured CPD the CII launched, in 2018, their Regulated Retail Investment Adviser Re-evaluation test designed to ensure diploma level 4 knowledge is where it should be. An annual one -off test of 100 questions where you can claim up to 35 hours of structured CPD

More recently, at Brand Financial Training, we have launched our CPD assessment tests which also covers the level 4 diploma (with a total of 100 questions) but the questions are broken down over five tests: Financial Services regulation, Tax & Trusts, Pensions, Investments and Protection as we wanted to ensure the testing could be spread over the year and targeted to needs and areas of specialism.

We firmly believe CPD is an important element of financial services and that assessment testing can form a key part of a Paraplanner’s CPD development programme.  It is a simple way for Paraplanners to clearly evidence and promote their knowledge and our ‘off the shelf’ tests can offer a cost-effective, time-efficient way to help alleviate some of the stresses of managing your CPD.

Professional Paraplanner