The Institute of Money Advisers (IMA) and the Debt Managers Standards Association (DEMSA) today announce a new partnership that will continue to raise standards in the fee payable debt advice sector. The initiative will include the introduction of a new professional qualification in debt advice for advisers working in DEMSA member firms.
The qualification will have its first intake of students in November 2011 and will be studied over 16 weeks covering key areas of debt advice including; budgeting, income maximisation, priority debts, insolvency, managing caseloads, and relevant legislation such as the Consumer Credit Act. It will be accredited by Staffordshire University and will provide an independent and rigorous assessment of the knowledge and skills of individual advisers in the DEMSA member firms.
The IMA launched a similar professional qualification for advisers in the free advice sector in 2010 and has so far seen almost 300 advisers achieve this qualification.
The DEMSA and IMA partnership will also include Continuous Professional Development for individual advisers requiring them to undertake ongoing training and development.
DEMSA has long been committed to raising standards across the fee charging debt advice sector. As well as working closely with the OFT to lead the drive towards higher standards, DEMSA recently introduced a more robust complaints mechanism for clients who receive advice from their member firms and has appointed Caroline Siarkiewicz, the Executive Director of the IMA, to sit on its Compliance and Disciplinary Panel.
David Blocksidge, Head of Debt Management Team, Consumer Credit Group at the OFT comments: “We are highly supportive of the proposal for the IMA to work with DEMSA to improve standards in the fee charging debt management sector. DEMSA has an OFT approved Code of Practice which its members abide by and we welcome DEMSA’s approach to seek to improve the training and competences of the staff working for its members.”
Steve Meakin, Chair of the IMA said: “The agreement with DEMSA represents a significant step in continuing to improve standards of advice in the fee charging sector. The IMA’s ‘Certificate in Money Advice Practice’ was introduced in 2010 for advisers in the free advice sector and has played a key role in establishing a benchmark for high quality advice. I believe that our work with DEMSA in introducing a new qualification and CPD scheme will mirror what has already been achieved in the free advice sector.”
Michael Land, Chairman of DEMSA adds: “As the principal trade body in the sector, DEMSA members are at all times required to provide informed, clear and appropriate advice which is always in the best interest of their clients. DEMSA members do already make significant investments in training and development however, introducing a formal qualification will act as an important vehicle for raising debt advice standards across the sector.”