You might have been wondering what happens if you do not complete your CPD hours by the end of a cycle. To give you context, we'll look at basic and ongoing competency requirements.
As you already know, non-compliance with the normal fit and proper requirements (RE exams, qualifications, experience and class of business training) within their specified timeframes, causes that a representative must be removed from the register. This means the rep can no longer render financial services until he/she is fully compliant with the basic competency requirements.
Product Specific Training and more importantly, CPD, is part of ongoing competency. Thus, even if you comply with the basic competency requirements and you do not comply with ongoing competency, you are also not allowed to render financial services until you are compliant.
The essence is this: if a representative or KI does not complete his/her full CPD hours by the end of a cycle, he/she must be removed from the rep register no later than the 31st of May. If he/she is only removed on the 1st of June (or later) due to non-compliance, the FSP has an obligation to debar the representative or KI. The rep can only be re-registered or the debarment can only be uplifted once he/she has obtained all the necessary hours.
Product Specific Training, also part of ongoing competency, is required for new products and changes in existing products that you are selling. Some industries/products might require more frequent refresher training than others (i.e. the health industry might be yearly, where insurance and investments might be every second or third year). The frequency will further depend on the different product providers. If, for example, an untied agent has contracts with 4 different product providers, he/she must keep record of all training attended for each product provider.
The question arising is: How does the FSP keep record of each representative's training?
There is no specific format at this stage in which you are required to prove attendance for Product Specific Training. However, it does not excuse an FSP from keeping record of it. There are many different ways in which an FSP can keep these records that might come in formats like hard copy, email or electronic certificates. One has to be able to prove attendance and what the representative learned from the session. The context of the course is of the utmost importance. Do not count on product providers to keep these records on your behalf, it is your responsibility as an FSP and as the first line of defense. We have specific solutions for our clients so contact us if you have any questions.
Why is compliance with ongoing competency requirements important? It is especially important when complaints are raised against representatives by clients who are dissatisfied with the advice received. If a representative was not updated with the latest changes in his/her industry and, as a result, provided advice that can/have caused damage to a client's financial well being, the representative will have difficulty in proving the correctness of the advice.
Debarments are lenghty and costly processes. It can cause difficulty with an FSP's staff turnover which, in turn, can cause a gap in servicing clients. Complaints are time-consuming and can cause your FSP reputational damage. Be vigilant in your compliance so your business can flourish.
In a recent FSCA email newsletter the FSCA informed the industry that they have not completed their work on the new format of compliance reports (I am liberally paraphrasing) and as a result there will be no compliance reports for 2019 but instead there will be a General Information Request. Some are speculating that this is a result of the increased workload and resulting lack of resources in the FSCA with all the new changes. I am guessing that this might very well be the case, because, to everyone's chagrin, we have seen turnaround times with license applications and profile changes increase exponentially as of late.
Although the format of the format of this information request is unknown, it is expected that it will compare the information on the FSCA's systems and that of the FSP to ensure that they are correct when the new COFI Act comes into play. Things like bank accounts, reps, KI's, contact numbers and business addresses - to name a few.
It is important to note that all FSP's must submit the information when it is requested, even those FSP's that do not have to submit compliance reports (like the funeral services providers).
RE Exam Prep Guides
The FSCA also sent the latest RE Exam Prep Guides for RE 1 and 5 that you can download here or on our client portal. The RE Exam Preparation Guides have undergone many changes recently and there are many versions floating around. Make sure you and your staff are using the right set of guides!
by: Horizon Compliance team