General tips

The free text areas on the application will be what both the auditor and the accreditation panel review, so please take care when completing, ensuring you check for spelling etc, and take the opportunity to concisely demonstrate your knowledge and understanding.

Some candidates may be provided with standard wording from their firm or practice for some sections of the application which has been preapproved for submission.  If you are not using standard wording please be aware that the panel expect ALL answers to be written in the individual applicant’s own words and any form of plagiarism may result in a candidate being failed.

Please read all questions carefully and ensure that your answers specifically and fully answer the question presented in a clear and concise response. Volume of text is not likely to increase the prospects of a pass.

When completing the form please ensure that you do not include information that would identify yourself or your firm (other than obviously in the initial contact details section). The assessment panel review each application anonymously, and therefore it is important that you and your firm cannot be identified from the information you provide.

What areas will I be tested on?

The areas on which candidates will be tested are detailed in the accreditation syllabus.

Submission / assessment / results dates

We would recommend booking an assessment date as soon as possible, as this will give you the submission date to work towards. Dates are usually available 9-12 months in advance, so you can plan ahead.

View assessment dates

View accreditation timescale example

When you book your assessment you will also see submission deadline for that assessment date. Please be aware that the full application must be submitted by this date, and your CPD log can only be submitted within the month before that submission date, to ensure it is up to date. Extensions will not be granted except in exceptional circumstances.

If there are 4 or more advisers from the same firm undertaking the accreditation, we can look to accommodate assessments in the workplace. Where five advisers or more in the same firm are attending the same assessment date, a discounted rate is available.

Changes to your assessment date

Once booked, changes to your assessment date are subject to the following:

REASON TIMING CONDITIONS
Cancellation More than 4 weeks prior to the assessment date You will recieve a full refund
Cancellation Less than 4 weeks prior to the assessment date No refund. In the case of illness you will be able to transfer your assessment booking to the next available session.
Absence from assessment n/a No refund. In the case of illness, with medical evidence, you will be able to transfer your assessment booking to the next available session.
Change of assessment venue or date More than 4 weeks prior to the assessment date No charge
Change of assessment venue or date Less than 4 weeks prior to the assessment date Charge of £175 will apply

Specific application requirements

Personal and firm information

Spread of business

You will be asked to submit a simple summary of business areas for yourself and your firm, by entering the approximate percentage of work against a series of business categories. This is NOT in itself part of passing or failing the accreditation, and there are no right or wrong answers. Its purpose is to assist the auditor in selecting an appropriate case study for assessment, and it also gives your application some context to assist the accreditation panel when considering the overall application.

Standard One – Technical Knowledge

Qualifications

In order to apply for the accreditation you must hold a Level 4 financial planning qualification, the minimum entry level requirement qualification for Long Term Care, and an appropriate equity release qualification. You must be signed off as competent under your employers T&C scheme, and hold a Statement of Professional Standing. You must ensure that the required examinations have been passed, or entered and that the result will be known before your submission date.

If you are unsure about the appropriate qualifications, you can consult this list published by the FCA http://fshandbook.info/FS/html/handbook/TC/App/4/1.

The relevant activities contained within this index are:

  • 4  and 6 –  advising on retail investment products
  • 7 – advising on long term care insurance contracts
  • 21 – advising on equity release transactions

Should you require more advice, call the Exams Helpline at the FCA on 0300 500 0597

Equity release qualification

Good knowledge and a broad understanding of equity release, and its impact on other areas of older client financial planning, must be demonstrated.  This knowledge is evidenced by passing an exam that covers the examination standards ApEx 20. Examples would be ER1, or a combination of CF7 with HR1, or any other awarding body’s equivalent such as units 1 & 2 of CeRER (Certificate in Regulated Equity Release).

Equity Release qualifications are required even where an adviser does not transact Equity Release and would usually refer to a specialist Equity Release adviser.  When the accreditation was initially developed, SOLLA consulted with both Age Concern and Which? who both argued a solid case that even where advisers do not transact equity release, they should, where appropriate, be able to have the conversation with clients about this option.  This is important especially where there is an existing scheme in place as the rest of the advice given will be influenced by this.  

Advisers, as part of the assessment, are often questioned about the impact of Equity Release on any planning in later life, and how an adviser refers to a specialist Equity Release Adviser must also be explained in the application form.

The LLAA does not require an adviser to be an authorised mortgage intermediary as long as they work with a nominated specialist for this area of advice.

Uploading evidence

When uploading certificates, please ensure that they are uploaded as a PDF file.

Competence Status

In regards to the competence status evidence, you should supply the following:

If you an adviser within a firm:

  • A copy of the assessment that that firm carried out to confirm your competence.
  • A letter or statement from whoever manages your compliance to state that you are signed off as 100% competent in your role.

If you are a director or principal of the firm:

  • Evidence from the network (if the firm belongs to one)
  • Details of your registration as a Director with the FCA

Standard Two - Supportive Environment

A supportive environment is where there is provision of, or access to, technical and practical information allowing the adviser to acquire, maintain and improve their relevant knowledge and advice skills in the area of older client advice. This standard is designed to demonstrate the environment in which the candidate works and how this supports them and assists them in providing advice in the later life sector.

Much of this section is free text and is the candidate’s opportunity to articulate, in a clear and concise manner, their working methods, activities and commitment to the later life sector.

For those working in a highly specialised practice, this may be an intrinsic provision of the firm.  However, for many sole practitioners or organisations in which perhaps only one adviser provides later life advice, there may not be a supportive environment provided by the organisation.  These advisers need to meet the requirements of this standard and demonstrate they can give the time and resources they need to support themselves with this element of the standard.

More specific information about the Supportive Environment requirements, and how this standard is assessed can be found in the Supportive Environment Guidance Notes.

Standard Three – Maintenance of Competence (CPD)

CPD records for the previous 12 months should be submitted in whatever format the candidate’s records are maintained. There are some additional aspects that you are required to include:

  • You need to highlight items which they feel are relevant to later life.
  • You will need to evidence an item of structured or unstructured CPD into recent legislative change relevant to later life clients. This must be from an enacted piece of legislation within the last two years.

There may also be items which could be included in your CPD log which may not have a specific financial services theme, but which are related to developing your knowledge and skills around later life advice, such as:

  • Attending a meeting of Dementia Friends
  • Attending a seminar on research on the impact of life expectancy for older client related illnesses
  • Reading the Office of the Public Guardian’s guidance notes on an application for a deputyship

The accreditation does not set a mandatory number of CPD hours or subject matter, but will assess a candidate’s CPD as part of their overall application. Candidates are asked to bear in mind the CPD requirements of the regulator and of their SPS provider.

You will also be asked to select one item which will need to be evidenced at the face to face assessment. The auditor will choose one other item to be evidenced from the applicant’s submission and candidates will be advised of this ahead of the assessment.The item of CPD that you select should be structured, and should not be a) the SOLLA LLAA Intorduction workshop, b) exams, c) about legislative change.

For these two items you should ensure that you can provide the following information.

  • When it took place
  • How long the event lasted
  • Which organisation delivered it
  • What topics were covered
  • What did you learn
  • How the learning was checked (tests, quizzes etc.)
  • How the learning has been applied
  • Any further CPD needs identified as a result

CPD is an important aspect of all your application and care should be given to set out in detail how you develops and maintain your knowledge on later life issues which are specific to your area of expertise and practice.  Failure to do so may mean that you do not achieve the requirements for this Standard.

Standard Four – Application of Knowledge and Soft Skills

You will need to upload two case reports or suitability letters as part of your application. Please upload these as a PDF. Once you have uploaded them, you can tick the relevant areas in the syllabus list that these case reports cover.

Please note that in order to successfully pass, it is necessary to demonstrate adequate knowledge across all elements of the syllabus and therefore selecting cases which are similar may not be helpful. Knowledge areas not covered by the submitted cases will need to be tested through the client scenario as part of the face to face assessment, and therefore the selection of your client scenario will seek to fill any gaps from your submitted case reports.

For data protection purposes all client details must be deleted.  Please do not mask client details as they can, upon editing, still be viewed.

The face to face assessment

Confirmation of Details

Around 2-3 weeks after your submission, you will receive an email with confirmation of the details of your assessment, including the day, time and venue.

Client Scenario

Fourteen days before your assessment you will receive an email with a link to the client scenario that will be used in your assessment.

Please ensure that you read the client scenario carefully, prepare a list of the issues arising and undertake research as necessary to familiarise yourself with these issues. You should prepare for the client scenario as you would prepare for a client meeting.

Having identified the obvious areas presented by the client scenario, we recommend that you consider other areas of potential questioning that might arise i.e. future developments, wider family concerns, changes in circumstances etc.

Assessment

Arrive in good time at the assessment venue and take with you everything that you would normally take to a client appointment for reference e.g. benefit and tax tables. Calculators are not needed and you will not be required to provide formal solutions to the client scenario.

The assessment is a one-to-one interview with an independent auditor. It will take approximately 90 minutes, and will be split into two sections, each lasting around 45 minutes.

  • Section 1 - Audit of Evidence: The first half is the verification of submitted evidence, such as your qualifications and CPD. You will need to bring original documents or certified copies of your qualifications, so that these can be verified. You will also be told of any additional documentation to bring, such as extra CPD items and examples of your supportive environment that have been selected by the auditor for discussion.
  • Section 2 - Work Based Assessment: The second half will consist of a VIVA, conversation and questions around an older client scenario. This aims to evidence how you apply your older client advice skills, knowledge and experience. You will need to explain things as though you are speaking to the client and often other family members, using a tone and language as appropriate. This part of the assessment is recorded (audio only).

Take your time when answering the questions presented and do not guess. If necessary, consult your reference notes or even suggest you will need to check the answer and get back to the client.

Soft Skills

Part of the assessment will involve the auditor asking you to explain a technical subject which has been raised by the client scenario as though you were speaking to the elderly client directly. This is designed to test your soft skills and to determine your ability to convey potentially complex concepts into a clear and simple explanation. You should bring along anything you would usually take to a client meeting including any prepared notes (but not printed technical reference material or manuals).

The auditor will be looking at your skills in the following:

  • How you apply your older client advice skills, knowledge and experience.
  • Your use of soft skills in communicating clearly as if speaking to the client.
    Your application of older client care procedures in regards to the meeting environment.
  • Your use of language easily understood by the client and/or their family and that you are able to check their understanding - explaining clearly any terms they do not understand.
  • That you demonstrate a clear understanding of different clients and their real and perceived needs.
  • That you understand any limitations the client may have both physical and cognitive.

The accreditation is not looking for any complex calculations or technical solutions.  It is simply evidencing that an adviser has a good broad based knowledge of older client matters and that they can communicate with their clients and/or their families about the wider financial options open to them which may include financial products.

Advisers should know when a client may need to be referred to a specialist or another professional.

As the assessment covers a wide range of advice issues, advisers should ensure they are up to date with  relevant older client knowledge across all advice areas and that they are comfortable with the knowledge requirements covered in the syllabus.

Useful Links

Here are some useful websites and links to help you prepare and cover a broad range of older client issues and knowledge:

Action on Elder Abuse

www.elderabuse.org.uk

AgeUK

www.ageuk.org.uk

Atdementia

www.atdementia.org.uk

Alzheimer’s Society

www.alzheimers.org.uk

Better Caring

www.bettercaring.com

Centre for the policy on aging

www.cpa.org.uk

Department for constitutional affairs – Mental Capacity Act

www.dca.gov.uk/menincap/faq.htm

Department of Health

www.dh.gov.uk/en/index.htm

Gov.UK

www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/entitlement

Elderly Accommodation Counsel and FirstStop

www.eac.org.uk

Equity Release Council

www.equityreleasecouncil.com/home/

Independent Age

www.independentage.org

 

Money Advice Service

 

www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/categories/care-and-disability

The National Dignity Council

www.dignityincare.org.uk

Office of the Public Guardian

www.justice.gov.uk/about/opg

Older client care procedures

Whilst there is no specific Standard pertaining directly to having older client care procedures, all Later Life Advisers who wish to become full members of the Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA) are expected to have their own older client care procedures in place that are aligned with the Code of Practice. You will need to evidence your companies older client care procedures when applying for full membership. SOLLA established the Code so that clients and their families are clear about what they can expect of their Later Life Adviser and the service that will be provided.

During the assessment you will be asked to adapt your communication style where appropriate and asked what to consider in the meeting environment when dealing with older clients.

When reviewing your own older client care procedures - you should consider the following examples:

  • I conduct business with older clients and clients with disabilities with integrity, dignity and respect, being mindful of the well-being and confidentiality of the client at all times
  • When dealing directly with an older client, I invite them when appropriate, to involve a trusted friend or family member but will respect their need for privacy should they decline to do so
  • Any written record of the advice provided to the client can also be provided to any other person
    nominated and for as long as that has been agreed by the client
  • Always use a Plain English policy and communicate in clear, easy to understand language, avoiding financial jargon wherever possible
  • Allowing for any disability, limitations in mobility, capacity, hearing and visual difficulties and taking this
    into account when communicating in written form and verbally
  • Ensuring correspondence and documents can be produced in large print if necessary and are appropriately formatted for relevant technology such as smart phone or iPad
  • Maintaining the client's dignity and privacy. Where appropriate, offering home visits as an alternative to a visit to the office
  • Making the complaints procedure and details of this available to the client

Renewing your Accreditation

Individual advisers need to apply annually for re-license until the end of the five year accreditation period, at which time the full accreditation process is repeated.

At annual re-licensing, advisers must provide evidence of their ongoing CPD and any changes to their Supportive Environment, and disclose details of any upheld complaints recieved within the last 18 months. 

Accredited Later Life Advisers must inform SOLLA immediately if their circumstances change, such as a complaint, change of employer or lapse of FCA authorisation.

Appeal

In the event of a fail, other than when the candidate has been deemed to have failed a mandatory aspect of the standard, candidates have a right of appeal which will be considered by someone who is independent of the assessment process and accreditation panel.

A fee of £150 is payable when an appeal is lodged, which will be refunded if the appeal is upheld.