In order to provide regulated financial advice in the UK, a financial adviser must hold an approved qualification covering a number of financial planning subjects. Qualifications are generally from two main professional bodies: Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and Institute of Financial Planning (IFP).
Advisers must hold a minimum qualification, subscribe to a code of ethics and keep up to date with technical issues through continuing professional development (CPD).
From 1st January 2013, the minimum professional qualification level for all financial advisers (including restricted advisers) is Level 4 Diploma qualification. This is the equivalent of a degree.
If you wish to ensure that your financial adviser has demonstrated a higher level of technical competence, the qualifications to look for are the Chartered Financial Planner qualification from the CII or Certified Financial Planner (CFP) qualification from IFP. These are deemed to be Level 6 qualification and represent a far more robust assessment of technical knowledge and understanding and practical application of financial planning skills.
In addition, each adviser must have a current “Statement of Professional Standing” (SPS) issued by an FCA accredited body. The SPS indicates they have signed up to a code of ethics and completed at least 35 hours of professional training each year. SPS certificates are renewed annually.