When leaving school and college all those years ago, I walked away feeling that my days of taking exams were over. How wrong I was! Since becoming a financial adviser way back in 1986 I have not stopped taking exams or studying. And quite rightly so; it’s only right that when people put their trust in you in terms of their finances, that you know what you’re talking about. As we continue to see the transition of financial services from an industry (mainly driven by sales) to a Profession, Financial Advisers must be able to demonstrate a degree of competency through examination and continued competency through continuous professional development. The learning never ends.
Of all the exams I have sat, none were as daunting as the accreditation process I have just gone through with SOLLA [Society of Later Life Advisers]. To quote their website, “The Society of Later Life Advisers aims to assist consumers and their families in finding trusted accredited financial advisers who understand financial needs in later life.”
To get accreditation an adviser must be able to demonstrate that they have the right set of skills to deal with older people and work within a supportive environment which recognises that the advice process for older people may be different to that for younger clients. Demonstration of these skills involves an audit process of an advisers qualifications and demonstration of a continued learning environment together with an individual assessment by an auditor in a ‘live’ situation. This was the most daunting aspect for me; before the assessment I was given a typical case scenario and then asked to prepare for a discussion where the assessor would play the role of a client. I will readily admit that initial nerves led to a degree of initial hesitation and a few moments of panic but once I got into my stride I was able to demonstrate that I had the knowledge required to advise in this area and the soft-skills necessary to be able to make myself understood.
Being granted accreditation status demonstrates that I, and the environment I work in, is tailored towards providing advice to older clients or clients with elderly relatives. It is nice to have recognition for the effort put in and I am looking forward to assisting clients with issues such as Long Term Care Fee Planning, Equity Release, Inheritance Tax Planning and Income in Retirement Planning which are just a few of the issues that concern our elderly clients or their families.
Stephen Sale DipFA, CeMAP, CeLTM, CeRER, CELTCI, M.ifs