Compliance will raise call centre standards

21 April 2009 Directfintraining (DFT)

Compliance with financial industry legislation, applicable to both call centres that sell financial products and financial advisers, will raise the standards of professionalism in the financial industry, ensure follow-up services, reduce fraud and ultimately improve consumer protection.

The FSB initially put in place a regulatory framework in October 2004 to promote the professionalism of the financial services sector through FICA and the FAIS Act. During 2008, several additional legislative changes were introduced to expand and enhance the FAIS Act and Fit and Proper regulations, says Karin Vermeulen, Managing Director of DFT (directfintraining).

“We welcome the FSB’s changes, as this will result in local call centres operating according to globally accepted practices through the additional disclosure and transparency required by legislation,” says Vermeulen. “Clients will know exactly what they purchase telephonically in terms of product, contributions, fees, benefits, tax implications, exclusions, liquidity and other aspects.”

Call centres offering financial products need to comply with the FSB’s regulations and agents need to obtain appropriate accreditation by 31 December 2009. This requirement has serious implications, as those who do not timeously comply can be debarred from operating in the industry.

Agents appointed to a call centre between 2004 and 2007 require accreditation appropriate to the products they offer. DFT meets the needs of all agents who need this accreditation through its Long Term Insurance, Short Term Insurance and Wealth Management Skills programmes, all of which are accredited by the Insurance Sector Education and Training Authority (INSETA).

“Some call centres have already taken steps for accreditation, which is reflected in the increased number of agents attending INSETA accredited training,” says Vermeulen. During 2008, DFT registered some 110 learners with INSETA for completing the company’s Long Term Insurance Skills programme. However, a significant number of call centres have taken no action in this regard.

“Comprehensive training can be done over 13 days, either consecutively or spread over several weeks,” says Doreen van Rooyen, DFT’s Marketing and New Business Consultant. Learners can also opt for self-study.  


“Each learner compiles a portfolio of evidence as part of our training,” says Van Rooyen. “This portfolio of evidence undergoes a two month period of assessment as well as moderation. DFT then applies with the INSETA for accreditation”.

She continues, “keeping in mind that the deadline for achieving the FAIS credits has to be done by 31 December 2009, it is important for call centres to act soonest and send their agents for training.” Call centres should ensure their selected training company is accredited by INSETA for quality education and training, and is committed to a hands-on management style, with dynamic, competent facilitators and moderators.

“In addition to the benefits for consumers who are contacted by accredited call centre agents, the agents themselves will gain significantly through this reigning imperative for the financial industry,” says Van Rooyen. “In a country that desperately needs a boost in skills development, the legislation will go a long way in addressing the skills shortage. This is a sure way to uplift the levels of expertise in the South African financial services sector.”

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