An introduction to Resolution IFA accreditation

When I was asked to give a talk on the subject of Resolution accreditation, I thought how the heck am I going to fill 20 or 25 minutes? However, when putting together the slides, I realised that actually there is so much that can be put into this talk.

The first thing to note about Resolution accreditation is it’s a very different qualification to what we’re used to in the IFA world, and it took a lot of hard work. My talk tried to shed some light on what worked for me.

We looked first at motivation for doing the accreditation, noting first of all that it is recognised by the legal profession. So if you speak to another IFA who isn’t involved in the divorce world, they have no idea what Resolution is, but of course family lawyers do – it’s a body that they are very well acquainted with! So if you say you have the Resolution specialist qualification to deal with financial advice on divorce, then you’re talking their talk and that enables you to cement the relationship.

It also means you’re not just one of those IFAs who are after the chunky settlement – you provide much more than this and can do much more than this. We all know by the time it gets to settlement it’s often too late and we can add so much value prior to that, and I think it’s such a shame that advisers who don’t specialise in this area say that they do, just to get their hands on a settlement.

Accreditation also opens a lot of other opportunities and doors. I now often get asked to speak as a divorce expert at a variety of events – to the point now where I have to turn some of them down – and these are all exposure opportunities and a really good way to grow the business.

But as a caveat to all that, I would say if you’re going to commit to the accreditation you have to fully commit and know that it is going to be tough. It really is an uphill climb, and it will require time out of your work diary to complete it.

The biggest thing is, it’s not like doing CII exams where you get a book and then you sit the exam, and yes you get a sore hand after writing for three hours but at least you know what kind of answers you need to provide. Accreditation is not like that in any way, shape or form! It’s also worth noting that you have to have evidence of three years of working in the industry in the specialist area of divorce to be able to do the accreditation in the first place.

With regards to the breakdown of the papers, the core assignment is an open book assignment taken over a set weekend which assesses your ability to fulfil the competencies.

Then you have portfolio assignments which allow you to prove you have the knowledge and experience in two different topic areas. You have about eight weeks to complete the portfolio assignments. You choose two portfolio assignments and for each of those you will be provided a case study with four questions.

For each portfolio assignment you also have to choose two reflective case accounts. These are case accounts that are taken from your own practise, and have to have been undertaken in the last 12 months. They should be complex enough for you to be able to demonstrate the required competencies.

The process involves thinking through a number of issues from your own experience, for example a case where you brought someone around to a different way of thinking; a case where you made mistakes; how you dealt with an emotional or vulnerable client; how you worked in a team environment and so on.

On the pension side, I would make sure that you think about a complex case where you’ve done some technical pension work – perhaps using a specific piece of legislation. Or think of a case where, say, a solicitor didn’t agree with what you had said and you needed further evidence to bring them around to your way of thinking.

During the talk, we went into a lot more detail on how to prepare assignments, including managing your own time, and then finished with some tips and tricks, including… make sure you book a holiday for when you have finished as you will need it.

Find out more about specialist accreditation for financial advisers here.

The Specialist Accreditation Prospectus is here.