The Central Bank’s revised Minimum Competency Code (MCC) came into effect on 1st December 2011. The full text of the Code is available at www.centralbank.ie.
The Code sets out the minimum standard of competence required of persons carrying out certain functions in regulated firms, including the following:
- providing advice to consumers on retail financial products;
- arranging or offering to arrange retail financial products for consumers, including any amendments to insurance cover and the restructuring or rescheduling of loans, or
- the exercise of a specified function, among which are:
- the direct management or supervision of those who provide advice to consumers about retail financial products or who arrange or offer to arrange retail financial products for consumers
- adjudicating on any complaint by a consumer which relates to advice about a retail financial product provided to that consumer.
Persons carrying out these functions must hold one of the recognised professional designations specified in MCC such as Qualified Financial Adviser (QFA) or Accredited Product Adviser (APA) or be grandfathered by their firm or participate, under supervision, in a training process.
Designates and grandfathered persons are required to undertake a number of continuing professional development (CPD) hours per year. For further information on the Institute’s CPD offering please click here.
Compared to the 2006 competency regime which it replaces, major changes introduced by MCC include:
- A direct linkage to the Central Bank’s Fitness and Probity regime.
- Classification of retail financial products into 8 categories:
- Life Assurance
- Savings and Investments
- Personal General Insurance
- Commercial General Insurance
- Private Medical Insurance and Associated Insurances
- Housing Loans, Home Reversion Agreements and Associated Insurances
- Consumer Credit and Associated Insurances
- Inclusion of a new recognised professional designation, Accredited Product Adviser (APA) which allows persons to satisfy minimum competency requirements in individual category (or groups) of retail financial products.
‘All consumers need to have confidence that they are receiving the best possible financial advice and services at all times. We are committed to strengthening consumer protection by requiring minimum professional competencies and standards of all persons providing consumer advice and services. This enhanced Code now places an onus on both the firms and persons to comply fully with their supervision and professional development requirements’.
Bernard Sheridan, Director for Consumer Protection, Central Bank of Ireland, September 2011
Click here for further information on programmes leading to professional designations under MCC.