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20 Aug 2018

How financial advisers can keep on top of their CPD

Completing and evidencing your Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is a requirement for every financial adviser.

But why is CPD important? Where can you find good quality training? And how can it positively impact your career? Our complete guide to CPD answers these questions and more.


What is CPD and why is it important?

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) says:

“Advisers will need to complete a minimum of 35 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) each year for retail investment activities, of which 21 hours should be structured. If you carry out other retail activities, such as mortgage advice or managing funds, you will need to carry out CPD for that activity as well.”

Structured CPD is an activity that achieves a defined learning outcome and includes participating in courses, seminars, workshops, webinars or e-learning.

A recent FCA statement has suggested that advisers wishing to sell protection must now also complete 15 hours of focused continuing professional training or development (CPD) every year. The 15 focused hours are included in the 35 hours of CPD the FCA already requires financial advisers to undertake every year.

Completing your CPD is an annual requirement for every financial adviser. Areas you might cover in CPD include:

  • Changes to products
  • Skills and expertise
  • Changes to legislation
  • Technical knowledge
  • Addressing any learning gaps

CPD lets you focus on the specific skills and knowledge that you want to learn. It ensures this learning is carried out in a structured and relevant way, meaning you can continue to improve your skills and proficiency as your career progresses.


The best places to find content and events

The FCA say that at least 21 hours of the minimum yearly CPD quota must be ‘structured’ learning. This may include seminars, lectures, conferences, workshops or courses, and completing appropriate e-learning.

Note that researching products and services for your clients is not included in ‘structured’ learning.

Ensuring there is variety in your CPD can help you to develop your understanding. For example, events organised by professional bodies are an excellent source of training. The Financial Planning Training Academy focuses on skills to deliver lifestyle financial planning while the Personal Finance Society offers both CPD events and online resources.

Signing up to FT Adviser online is another great way to find relevant CPD articles. Their website even allows for you to bank your CPD achievement, once completed.

Keeping up to date with market conditions and industry changes is also a good way of ensuring you’re providing great advice. Private companies with large research resources are often a good bet for macroeconomic updates, with many investment companies providing excellent seminars commenting on the current market.

Another way of completing relevant CPD is to study for an exam. For example, you may want to study for the Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning if you have more than 5 years’ industry experience.

If you’re looking for great ways to complete unstructured CPD, have you considered podcasts? Podcasts to consider include Chris Budd’s The Financial Wellbeing, the NextGen Planners and the Marketing and Finance podcast from Roger Edwards.


Keeping a record of your CPD

It is essential for financial advisers to keep a record of their CPD to demonstrate their achievements and to be able to evidence in the future if needed. It is common for people to record their CPD in a Word document, by using an Excel spreadsheet or online.

This can however mean that sometimes you wait till you have access to your computer and so you may put off recording till a later date and forget some of the details. For that you could use mobile apps, which are designed specifically to make recording CPD easier and quicker, on the go, as and when you are undergoing learning. A great free app for this is CPDme, which is available to download on all smartphones.

You also need to ensure your records are of good quality. The areas your documentation should cover are:

  1. your needs – knowledge gaps and your target outcome of the learning
  2. how you will meet your needs – a description of the activity you are going to do or have done, including number of hours
  3. confirm how you met your needs (once carried out) – how the activity has met the target learning outcome, and if tested, the test result


How CPD correlates with increased income potential

Undertaking CPD is a key way to help you keep your skills and knowledge up-to-date. It enables you to increase your knowledge on your industry specialisms and perhaps become a ‘knowledge bank’ within your organisation.

Regularly undertaking CPD will help you to build both confidence and credibility with your clients. You will be able to talk more convincingly about market conditions, products or strategies, giving you the tools you need to carry out your role more effectively.

In addition, CPD is beneficial for your career progression and advancement. Demonstrating dedication to self-improvement, becoming more knowledgeable and showing a commitment to specialist learning makes you an asset to any business. In real terms, this means that CPD can help you potentially achieve a higher salary.

Darren Smith, Head of Financial Adviser School, says: “Don’t think of CPD as something where you tick-box the number of hours. Advisers should be thinking about how it will enhance how they give advice to clients.

“You can identify a raft of areas where you could do with more knowledge and make a note at the end of the CPD year of the things that should be beneficial.”


Our Network can help you with CPD

When you join our network we provide one-to-one and online training sessions to support you in your on-going CPD. Plus seminars to cover key industry or product issues. If you would like to find out more about how we can help you, you can contact us.


By Lyba Nasir