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GUERNSEY’s insurance industry has begun to meet recommendations from the Guernsey Financial Services Commission aimed at raising professional standards.

In September last year, the GFSC issued its Implementation of Guernsey Financial Advice Standards consultation paper to the industry and has now decided that the island will follow a similar approach to Jersey and the Isle of Man in response to the Financial Conduct’s Authority Retail Distribution Review proposals.

‘The implementation of GFAS is intended to increase professional standards, make adviser charging more transparent and reduce potential conflicts of interest. This will contribute to the protection of the public against financial loss due to potential dishonesty, incompetence or malpractice by persons carrying on financial business,’ said the GFSC in correspondence to the industry.

As part of the proposals the GFSC has specified a standard for professional qualifications required by those providing professional advice as well as a requirement for continuing education. Those advisers who fall within the scope of GFAS will now be required to hold a recognised Level 4 professional qualification. In order to facilitate this, the GFSC has approved the GTA University Centre to support the local industry and on Wednesday, the industry, through an event organised by the Insurance Institute of Guernsey, will be given more information.

‘In order to support the local industry, the GTA has been liaising with the various professional bodies, to better understand their requirements and to develop a programme of training which will allow them to meet the level 4 benchmark,’ said GTA programmes manager Liesel Lindsay.

‘During 2014 we will be offering face to face, on-island delivery in conjunction with the College of Further Education of the relevant Level 4 qualifications identified by the GFSC.’

The courses on offer will be the Investment Advice Diploma from the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment, the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning from the Chartered Insurance Institute and the Investment Management Certificate from the CFA Society of the UK.

‘The GFSC is currently proposing that all staff must have obtained a relevant level 4 qualification by 31 December 2015 and failure to do so will mean that the individual must cease providing advice to retail clients until such time as the qualification is obtained,’ said Callum Beaton, president of the Insurance Institute of Guernsey.

‘This could have a profound impact, particularly on members of the insurance sector, many of whom are presently qualified to level 3 only, which is why we are taking a proactive approach by organising an event which aims to highlight the changes, explain in more detail the requirements and offer the industry an on-island solution to meet those requirements.

Mrs Lindsay said that courses will start this month.

‘It’s important that professional advisers aren’t complacent about their current status and they need to proactively check whether they meet the standards, and if they don’t, what options are available for them,’ she said.

The next meeting of the Insurance Institute of Guernsey, on Wednesday on 15 January, will include an update from the organisation’s education secretary Heather Le Conte, an overview of its response to the changes from PFS representative, Alison Bougourd, and presentations from Mrs Lindsay and Rosemary Stevens from the GFSC. Mr Beaton will also give more information about the Institute’s forthcoming activities.

‘We fully expect the event to be over-subscribed due to far reaching implications of GFAS and we are grateful to both the GTA and the GFSC for taking the time to come and talk to our members and give further insight into the changes,’ said Mr Beaton.