INSETA helps financial services industry to compliance

18 January 2008 Inseta

INSETA initiative creates user-friendly assessments to assist brokers and financial advisors and planners to meet the Fit and Proper requirements of the FAIS Act

In November 2007, a total of 550 brokers and financial advisors completed vital assessments for their licenses in compliance with the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act (FAIS) Fit and Proper requirement.

This is according to the Insurance Sector Education and Training Authority (INSETA), which in conjunction with its appointed provider, Imfundo, conducted a national assessment on 17 November 2007 to assist brokers and financial advisors in all categories to attain the credits they need to qualify for licences.

According to Mike Abel, CEO of INSETA, the assessments were designed to provide a fast and user-friendly way for financial practitioners to comply with what is often perceived to be intimidating legal requirements, without compromising on quality standards.

“INSETA is once again playing a leading and significant role in supporting the Insurance sector through this critical support project enabling these professionals who qualify to remain in practice,” he said.

In terms of the FAIS Act, existing brokers/financial advisors (or new entrants into the sector after 2004) in South Africa were required to achieve their outstanding or remaining credits by 31 December 2008. Prior to the November assessment, there were approximately 20 000 brokers and financial advisors (estimated by the Financial Services Board) who needed to complete either 30 or 60 credits. Those who entered the Insurance industry in 2004 have until the 31st December 2008 to qualify and those who entered the industry after that date have until the 31st December 2009.

To help smooth the path for these individuals, INSETA developed an assessment that consists of a basic multiple choice answer sheet based on case studies relating to situations that brokers encounter in the daily exaction of their tasks. Curricula and answer sheets were made available to candidates to assist with preparation. INSETA also set up a dedicated FAIS project office and support was available through the help desk at INSETA’s Call Centre to make the process as trouble-free as possible.

Of the 550 that wrote INSETA assessments, the average pass marks were as follows:

Category A: Long Term - 32 people wrote, 74% overall average

Category B1: Personal Lines - 172people wrote, 66% overall average

Category B2: Commercial lines - 226people wrote, 77% overall average

Category C: Long Term - 120people wrote, 60% overall average

Arnold van der Linde, President of the Board of Directors of the Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa (FIA) said that the FIA congratulates INSETA, Mike Abel and his team on the initiative, which allows thousands of brokers and advisors to prove their level of knowledge easily and effectively. “This brilliant way of speeding up the process ensures that only those that have the knowledge can without hassle prove their credits and carry on with providing service to consumers,” he said.

Jose Antao of Luso Africa Insurance Brokers – one of the brokers who took part in the November assessments – agrees. “It is undoubtedly a fantastic way for those of us with a good number of years of experience, and those that have reached a certain age, to obtain the credits that they are worthy of, without having to spend hours, days and weeks completing projects, and only to obtain the same amount of credits or less,” he said.

Other industry voices have also praised INSETA for its role in setting up and funding the assessments. John Arnesen, CEO of the Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa (FPI) said that the initiative is good for the financial sector and that it also opens the door to those intermediaries who want to belong to the professional bodies such as the Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa (the Professional Body for Financial Planning).

Also typical of the feedback by candidates who were surveyed after the assessments, was the comment by Mr Sikoshana who said, “Thank you very much, INSETA, for your commitment”.

Mr Samuel Isaacs, Executive Officer of the South African Qualifications Authority added that the initiative was an outstanding example of how the National Qualification Framework (NQF) enables the learning of professionals to be quality assured to give the public greater protection in terms of accountability for the financial services they receive.

“Here is a stunning example of how INSETA, SAQA (the overseer of the NQF), and the Independent Institute of Education (IIE) with Imfundo (the INSETA accredited provider) was able, within the NQF, to work to ensure quality qualifications and credits for this sector,” he said.

“The Insurance industry is a dynamic and growing sector. It makes a significant contribution to the GDP of the nation. A project like this not only professionally equips the advisory workforce in the industry but also promotes stability and talent retention in the sector,” said Abel.

The November assessments were the first round of assessments to be run. Further assessments will be run by INSETA in June and November annually until 2009. As the Insurance Sector Education and Training Authority, we are certainly doing our part and I feel sure that the upcoming assessments will draw the many thousands who need credits to qualify by the deadlines set by the Financial Services Board, said Mike Abel.

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