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INSETA, UWC and the FPI join forces to accelerate skills development in the financial planning sector

27 September 2010 INSETA, FPI, Further Education and Training (FET) Institute and University of Western Cape

In a first for South Africa, a partnership between INSETA, UWC and the Financial Planning Institute (FPI) is set to transform the financial planning sector and offer new opportunities for young people looking to carve out a career in the field.

The initiative, dubbed FETI/HETI, because it offers a “seamless articulation” between Further Education and Training and Higher Education and Training institutes, will increase the number of qualified professional financial planners working in South Africa by making it easier and more affordable for students to gain the right accreditation and qualifications.

The initiative allows Further Education Colleges (FETs) to offer the equivalent of a first-year university course. In terms of the deal struck between the partners, UWC will now recognize the NQF level 5 Certificate in Wealth Management as the first year of a B.Com Degree. The NQF level 5 qualification will therefore become a bridge to a higher qualification, which learners can obtain through the UWC.

The pilot programme is being funded by INSETA, and will allow 100 learners at five Western Cape public FET Colleges to undertake the NQF level 5 Certificate in Wealth Management as the first step on the ladder to gaining a tertiary qualification.

Seamus Needham, Project Manager of the UWC FET Institute, explains that the unique three-way partnership will allow workers in the industry, who have heretofore been at a disadvantage due to the limitations of their qualifications and financial backgrounds, can now be granted equal access to tertiary education at no personal expense - and at no expense to the companies for which they work.

“Companies directly benefit from this initiative, as there is no charge for this training. INSETA used discretionary funds to fund the 100 learners on this articulation pilot programme. Furthermore companies can claim back portions of their skills levy for placing employees on accredited training”, he says.

Godfrey Nti, FPI CEO, says that the initiative, if taken nationally, will assist greatly in making it possible for learners to access universities and go through to complete their NQF level 7 qualification.

“This in turn will help our transformation objectives,” he said. “Currently only approximately 20% of our membership base is from the previously disadvantaged community and therefore not reflective of the South African demographic.”

As part of the initiative, FPI, as the professional body for financial planners in South Africa, has accredited the UWC FET Institute and the five FET Colleges to offer FPI Board exams which will give the learners the opportunity to become professional members. These are available to be written at differing stages, depending on the applicant’s work experience and qualification.

Graduates of the NQF level 5 Certificate will be allowed to enter the UWC SBF Advanced Diploma in Management Studies, a two year course at NQF level 6 and 7. Graduates will then be able to pursue a B. Commerce Honours Degree.

Separately, having the NQF Level 5 Certificate in Wealth Management and with one year of working experience, learners are allowed to write the FPI Board exam, which leads to a Registered Financial Planner designation.

With the Advance Diploma in Management Studies and two years work experience in the insurance industry, learners are be able to write the FPI Board exam at UWC, which leads to the designation Associate Financial Planner.

Then with a B. Commerce Honours degree, and with three years work experience, learners are able to write the FPI Board exam at UWC, which gives them the designation Certified Financial Planner – an internationally recognised designation, of which there is a national and global shortage.

Sharon Snell, Chief Operating Officer at INSETA, explains that “Government has identified the need for more qualified financial planners and advisors to be working in the economy as large numbers of South Africans desperately have need of this service.

“INSETA is very excited about this initiative,” said Snell. “We feel that it has the potential to revolutionize the financial planning sector by broadening access and accelerating skills development – something that is much needed. It is also part of a bigger drive to professionalize the sector so that financial advisors are equipped to render a service rather than just selling a product. This will benefit not just the sector and those working in it – but the millions of South Africans who use their services every day.”

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