Provisional accreditation of professional trustees is necessary to ensure the speedy removal of “unscrupulous individuals”, Dalriada Trustees has said in defence of the process.
Amid the ongoing Covid-19 crisis and its inhibiting factors on normal activities, granting preliminary accreditation "satisfies demand from trustees" who cannot gain full accreditation due to the inability to complete required examinations.
Writing for Professional Pensions, Dalriada Trustee director Brian Spence said the move was a "step in the right direction" that allows the industry to screen out "bad eggs".
"The introduction of provisional as well as full accreditation is a direct response by the APPT to the difficulties presented by Covid-19, and the lack of availability of online soft skills examinations," he wrote. "It also satisfies demand from trustees that are trying to achieve accreditation by the planned launch date of 1 July."
He was writing in response to a guest comment from the Pensions Management Institute, published last week by Professional Pensions, in which board chairman Alan Whalley argued provisional education subverted the aims of the accreditation process.
The PMI has so far accredited two trustees, while the Association of Professional Pension Trustees (APPT) has granted full accreditation to 14 trustees, and provisional accreditation to 40 trustees, some of whom are with Dalriada.
Spence said it was disappointing that Whalley had chosen to "attack the APPT approach to provisional accreditation rather than focussing on the PMI's own efforts".
He added: "The suggestion that the standards are being compromised by this process is simply not the case. Provisional accreditation ensures that unscrupulous individuals are removed from our profession by screening out bad eggs."
To gain provisional education, trustees must meet all checks bar the examination, he noted, including completion of The Pensions Regulator's Trustee Toolkit, up-to-date criminal record checks, and credible professional references.
But PMI chief executive Gareth Tancred said there were now no barriers to completing the exam and provisional accreditation may overlook other requirements.
He said: "There is no need for provisional accreditation. It creates confusion which is not helpful. In fact, CPT Unit 2 (the soft skills exam) is now available online, indeed we have been running it throughout May and the next available exam sitting, which closes for registrations at 5pm today, will take place on 26 June.
"Dalriada has suggested that the only missing element to achieve full accreditation during this unprecedented time was the CPT Unit 2 but that is now not the case.
"Additionally, we understand that the APPT has been provisionally accrediting people without a DBS check so provisional accreditation is therefore not ‘screening out the bad eggs'. The issue is how far are they prepared to dilute the standards. Other professions aren't doing this, and are trying to keep the bar high as we navigate changes due to Covid-19.
"We are acutely aware of the industry's frustrations around the differences between the APPT and ourselves. We have spoken to the APPT several times over the last couple of months and are open to continue discussions to try and start a constructive dialogue."
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