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Editorial - September 2015

Vania FranceschelliVania Franceschelli
Member of the Board of FECIF / Member of the Executive Committee of ANASF (Head of Foreign Affairs)

In July FECIF sent its contribution to the ESMA Consultation Paper on the Draft guidelines for the assessment of staff knowledge and competence under MiFID II. This Consultation Paper is of outmost importance for all financial advisors in Europe, as it provides the basis for the definition of the qualification and experience requirements in order to provide investment advice and information on financial services and products in accordance with the Directive.

In its contribution, FECIF devoted particular attention to the defence and promotion of the role of financial advisors in Europe, with a specific focus on the characteristics of the financial systems and labour markets across Member States. As a member of the Executive Committee of ANASF – the national association representing tied agents in Italy – I personally cooperated with my association in assessing the impact of the proposed guidelines.

Specifically, in its position FECIF:

- supports the general approach acknowledging that the specification of the criteria for the assessment of staff knowledge and competence must be made at national level;

- disagrees with the ESMA proposal consisting of a requirement of five consecutive years of experience for those staff members who are already providing relevant services to cater for the requirement of “appropriate qualification”. In the unfortunate case that such a proposal is accepted, the advisory sector will face a serious challenge. Financial advisors would suddenly be prevented from providing a service that they have so far been providing in full compliance with all applicable laws. Many investors would be precluded from access to investment advice or be compelled to look for another financial advisor. The unintended consequence of such a measure would be the widening of the “advice gap”;

- generally agrees with the knowledge and competence requirements proposed by ESMA, as they are complete, perfectly comply with relevant market features and ensure appropriate investor protection;

- emphasizes the importance of professional certifications for the sake of ongoing professional development;

- stresses the need to give investment firms the choice between in-house and outsourced education and qualification systems;

- outlines the possible costs that investment firms may encounter as a result of the proposed guidelines.

The adoption of the finalised guidelines is scheduled for 3rd January 2016. FECIF is committed to monitoring and assessing the future application of the new requirements, in accordance with our mission to protect and foster the role of financial advisors and intermediaries in Europe.

Responses by FECIF and two of its associates (ANASF and ANACOFI) are published on the ESMA website: https://www.esma.europa.eu/consultation/Draft-guidelines-assessment-knowledge-and-competence

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