By Orlaith Mallen

The FCA’s latest Quarterly Consultation Paper (CP22/4) includes proposals to amend the guidance in the Training and Competency sourcebook (TC) relating to the minimum amount of time expected to be spent on structured activities (such as courses and e-learning), for them to count towards continuing professional development (CPD). The aim of these proposals is to provide “greater flexibility for firms and advisers adapting to new ways of learning”.

The proposals will be relevant to retail investment advisers (RIAs) and pension transfer specialists (PTSs), and the firms employing them. The proposals will also be of interest to these firms’ trade associations, accredited and other professional bodies, organisations that award qualifications, and learning and qualification providers.

Summary of proposals:

  • Remove the reference in the TC 2.1.20G to structured CPD activities needing to last at least 30 minutes; and
  • Include new guidance that CPD activities should be relevant to the aims set out in TC 2.1.22G despite the removal of this minimum time limit.

In practice, this will give greater flexibility for PIAs and PTSs in the forms of learning that they undertake in order to satisfy their CPD requirements, allowing for more diverse forms of learning and increasing the range of options for CPD.  It is important to note that these proposals will not change the basic approach to CPD or the total CPD hours required for RIAs and PTSs.

The proposed changes come about at a time where advances in technology, paired with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, have transformed the way learning content is delivered and consumed. The FCA considers that online learning material is now available in short and incremental formats and individuals should have the flexibility to access such materials at a time that is convenient to them. The new proposals will provide RIAs, PTSs and firms with greater flexibility so that they can choose the most appropriate and effective CPD activities and learn in a way that is best suited to them.

If we can assist with any aspect of the above or SM&CR more generally, please get in contact with our expert, James Green.