FAQs

All questions

Membership

Associate membership

Associate membership is open to individuals

  • who work in the money advice sector (applicants will normally have at least 12 months’ experience – those with less may wish to consider applying for trainee membership, see below)
  • whose function of employment (paid or unpaid) includes the delivery or promotion of free, confidential, independent and holistic money advice
  • who do not yet hold our Certificate in Money Advice Practice qualification
  • whose work conforms to and fully supports the definition of money advice as defined in our Statement of Good Practice
  • who work to or promote the standards and practices set out for members in the IMA’s Statement of Good Practice
  • who have the relevant FCA permissions (or who are exempt) and hold the appropriate professional indemnity insurance.

Associate members will normally be carrying out FCA-regulated activities, such as:

Debt Counselling
(1) giving advice to a borrower about the liquidation of a debt due under a credit agreement;
(2) giving advice to a hirer about the liquidation of a debt due under a consumer hire agreement.

or

Debt Adjusting – this activity comprises the following, in relation to debts due under a credit agreement or consumer hire agreement:
(1) negotiating with the lender or owner, on behalf of the borrower or hirer, terms for the discharge of a debt;
(2) taking over, in return for payments by the borrower or hirer, that person’s obligation to discharge a debt; or
(3) any similar activity concerned with the liquidation of a debt.

If you are not undertaking these activities, but are giving more general advice, primarily signposting or doing financial capability work, Affiliate membership is likely to be more suitable.

Accredited membership

Accredited membership is open to current IMA members who satisfy the requirements of Associate membership, but also:

  • have been awarded the IMA’s Certificate in Money Advice Practice,
  • have satisfied the requirements for the IMA’s continuing professional development scheme, and
  • continue to comply with the IMA’s Code of Conduct for Members and Affiliates.

Current Associate members are automatically awarded Accredited membership once they have successfully completed the Certificate in Money Advice Practice and, as such, non-members cannot apply for Accredited membership. This Accredited status can be rescinded where a member fails to comply with the requirements, as detailed above. Follow the links for more information about the IMA’s Certificate in Money Advice Practice and Continuing Professional Development scheme.

In order to be a member of this category you will need to have the relevant FCA permissions (or be exempt) and hold the appropriate professional indemnity insurance.

Affiliate Membership

Affiliate membership is open to any individual who has some involvement in money advice and financial work in its widest sense, and who does not qualify for Associate membership. Affiliate members may be giving more general advice, primarily signposting or doing financial capability work.

Individuals may be admitted to Affiliate membership if:

(i) In the course of their employment (paid or otherwise) they promote free, confidential, impartial money advice as defined within the IMA’s Statement of Good Practice and

(ii) they work to, or promote, the standards and practices set out for individual affiliation within the IMA’s Statement of Good Practice.

Example of job roles which would normally qualify an individual for Affiliate membership include:

  • Budget Support Worker
  • Tenancy Sustainment Officer
  • Welfare Benefits Adviser
  • Financial Inclusion Officer
  • Income Adviser
  • Housing Officer
  • Energy Adviser
  • Housing Support Tenancy Officer
  • Credit Union Membership Officer
  • Social Policy Officer
  • Benevolent Fund Officer
  • Managers not providing technical supervision
Trainee membership

Trainee membership is open to individuals who do not yet meet the requirements for Associate membership, but who can demonstrate that they have a genuine interest in, and are working towards, fulfilling the Associate membership criteria and working (paid or unpaid) in the free, not-for-profit advice sector. Applicants for trainee membership will normally have been working in money advice for less than 12 months.

Trainee members benefit from a 20% reduction from the cost of full Associate membership.

Non-Practising Membership

This is a category for members who previously qualified for either the Accredited or Associate membership categories, but who have either retired or now find themselves out of work. Non-Practising members benefit from a reduced annual membership fee. See here for details of IMA membership fees.

The purpose of this category is to support these advisers, to maintain their membership of the IMA and to provide a package of benefits to assist them in finding future work if desired.

To qualify, you must not be working for a fee-charging advice organisation or be a self-employed fee charging adviser. You must not be eligible for any other category of membership. The category is only open to previous Accredited and Associate members, not to new applicants.

Honorary Fellows

The Honorary Fellows category of membership is for those members who are recognised as having made a special contribution to the money advice sector and the Institute. Nominations are approved by the Board and the announcement of new Fellows is made annually at the AGM, which takes place at our annual conference.

Which membership category am I eligible for?

Full details of our membership categories can be found here. Experienced applicants currently giving money advice should normally apply for Associate membership. Applicants new to money advice may apply for trainee membership. Those not giving money advice but working in a related role should apply for Affiliate membership.

How do I apply for membership?

Applications for membership can be made online here. Your completed application will be reviewed by the IMA and an invoice will be sent for your membership fees. Your membership will commence when we receive payment of these fees.

How can I pay for my membership fees?

We will send an invoice for your fees to the address you specify. Payment can be made by cheque or via bank transfer – full details on how to make a payment will be on the invoice. We do not accept credit or debit card payments.

What VAT is charged on membership fees?

For VAT purposes, the gross amount of the fee is divided into three equal parts. One part is VAT exempt, one part is zero-rated, and one part is inclusive of VAT at the current rate.

How do I renew my membership?

Around six weeks before your membership is due for renewal we will email you asking you to complete an online renewal form. Once you have completed this we will send you an invoice for your membership fees.

I did not receive my copy of Quarterly Account. How can I request a replacement?

Please email us at membership@i-m-a.org.uk or call us on 0113 242 0048 to request a replacement.

How do I become a DRO Approved Intermediary?

Associate and Accredited members can apply to the IMA to become a DRO Approved Intermediary. The application process consists of a paper form which needs to be signed by the applicant and their manager. We will also request proof of ID and address, and will need details of your FCA permissions and professional indemnity insurance. For applicants who have not completed the Certificate in Money Advice Practice, we will also request and review a case file. See here for more details.

Is there a charge for applying to become a DRO Approved Intermediary?

There is no charge for applying to become a DRO Approved Intermediary.

What happens if I change job part way through my membership period?

If you change job part way through your membership period please complete our online change of circumstances form which can be found here. We will then assess whether you remain eligible for the same category of membership.

How can I tell the IMA about a change of details / circumstances?

If you have changed your name, or contact details such as telephone number, postal or email address, please email us at membership@i-m-a.org.uk or call us on 0113 242 0048.

If you have changed or left your employer, or have a new role with the same employer, please complete our online change of circumstances form which can be found here.

How can I reset my Members’ Zone login details?

Unless you have reset it, your username will be your membership number (e.g. 1234), or the first part of your membership number if you have an old-style membership number ending in letters (e.g. L1234). Your password should be your date of birth in the format DDMMYYY.

If you have tried these details but cannot access the Members’ Zone, please email us at membership@i-m-a.org.uk or call us on 0113 242 0048 to reset your details.

I am leaving my organisation. Can I transfer my membership to a colleague?

No, IMA membership is personal and individual and cannot be transferred to another person.

Do I need FCA authorisation to be a member?

Associate and Accredited members should be covered by the appropriate FCA permissions unless their employer is exempt. If a Trainee member is giving advice they will also need to be covered by the appropriate permissions.

We do not require Non-Practising and Affiliate members to be covered by FCA permissions as they will not be giving advice.

For more information about FCA regulation and the required permissions click here.

How do I cancel my membership?

If your membership is due for renewal and you do not wish to renew, please let us know us at membership@i-m-a.org.uk, or call us on 0113 242 0048.

Otherwise, you may cancel your membership at any time by notifying us via email to membership@i-m-a.org.uk, marked “FAO IMA Company Secretary”. Please note that we cannot refund all or part of your membership fees if you cancel your membership part way through your membership period.

Activity

I have responded to a consultation on (for example) insolvency reform. Can I count this?

Whether you respond as part of your agency response or individually, you are normally expressing an opinion. We may allow 2 points but are likely to require evidence.

Can I count Social Policy activities? They are part of my role as an adviser.

You may count some social policy but not one off contributions such as evidence forms. In CABx these are known as eBEFs but for members from other agencies, the equivalent is if you create a single case-specific report on a policy issue affecting a particular client. These singular responses are usually part of the role of an adviser.

However, if you collate various case studies and create a report based on a recurrent policy issue this takes time. You are usually required to research the law that creates the problem, gather relevant case studies and evidence and write a substantial document. Such social policy reports would gain 2 points.

If you have contributed to a report but not written the whole document we may conside r this on a case by case basis, possibly requiring evidence.

I subscribe to a podcast weekly/monthly. Can I count every one of these?

The IMA cannot check each and every podcast if there are high numbers. We do not have the capacity to do this. Therefore we would ask that you select a sample of podcasts that you think are of sufficiently high technical merit. You have to include activities from 3 of 4 categories therefore you will have other points from other categories in any case. Podcasts sit within the ‘Reading/writing/research’ category.

We review the scheme and if there becomes an over-reliance on podcasts we may change our guidance.

I have listened to a podcast. Can I count this?

We see very few but a growing number. We allow 1 point per podcast where we agree to award any points. There are some guiding principles:

  • As always, the subject matter has to relate to the area of law of money advice and be of sufficient technical nature
  • The podcast must be a minimum of 20 minutes in length
  • If possible we ask that you provide the date, presenter/author, subject matter and URL if available online
Can I claim research and writing separately where they form part of the same task, for example, creating new training, writing an article or social policy report?

No, they are so closely linked. We allow 2 points for the whole process of producing the materials and you can claim this as either ‘research’ or ‘writing.’ You would not usually research something without then writing a document afterwards, certainly as far as the CPD scheme is concerned.

What counts as a writing activity?

This sub-category is quite limited and linked to training and research in most case. Remember ‘research/writing/reading’ is one category and purposefully so as they are so closely linked together. Writing might include:

  • An article for a journal
  • New training materials
  • A social policy report

We do not allow the updating of call-prompts, fact sheets, attendance notes, revision of training etc.

What counts as research? I have to do research for cases all the time so can I count this?

Research sits on quite a fine line. We would not allow research where it is prompted by an everyday task. One example is when a case you are handling includes a technical aspect that you have to research in order to provide best advice. This could be consulting Adviser Net, the Debt Advice Handbook, Specialist Support Unit or other expert – it is part of the role of an adviser to do this so this will not count.

2 points could be claimed if you conducted research:

  • In order to write and deliver training (you would count this under ‘training’ as opposed to ‘research’ and see question 16 for how points are awarded)
  • To research law to contribute to a social policy report (see also question 41 on social policy)
  • To produce an article for Quarterly Account or other journal
  • Other examples can be decided on a case by case basis and you should be prepared to present evidence if asked on any of the above
What is reading and what is research?

It is hard to distinguish sometimes but we would expect reading to be for no particular purpose – for example reading a journal such as QA.

We expect research to be undertaken with a purpose in mind, such as creating training, social policy reports or an article. It is better to claim this as research as there is no cap on research, but a cap of 2 points per annum for reading.

Why is there a limit on reading to a maximum of 2 points? I learn a lot from reading journals.

The IMA felt that a limit was important to encourage CPD participants to access activities of a broad range. The scheme also has to be seen to be stringent and we want MIMA (Cert) status to reflect a year of development and achievement. In some instances reading was too large a proportion of points to ensure active learning was taking place. The rule was introduced to take effect from November 2013.

I completed a qualification. How do I count the points?

You have 2 options essentially:

  • Wait until you have completed the whole qualification and have passed the exam/assessment. Count the actual time spent on the whole qualification even if this has spanned more than one CPD period. We are likely to check how long the course outline states this should take.
  • If there are individually completed modules/units, submit them separately within the CPD period in which they were completed – again claiming the time you have actually spent on the module.

As with question 32 we may seek evidence as to how much of the qualification applied/was applied to money advice in order to work out what we will allow for CPD purposes.

There are very few qualifications that are money advice specific, so what can I count

Many qualifications will offer modules that can be practically applied to money advice. A law course may offer the chance to research consumer credit or insolvency law for example. Many of these will be decided on case by case. We usually request a link to the course and module descriptors/outlines.

The money advice aspect must not be secondary to the main outcome of the module. For example, a teaching course will usually improve your ability to deliver eaching/training sessions, plan sessions and account for access and equality issues. It is not likely to develop your technical knowledge of money advice which is the concern of the CPD scheme.

I have posted a query/answered a query on a web forum. Can I count this?

We used to allow these but have now changed our guidance. The quality of the submissions varied and due to this we had to check each and every one. Secondly, to post a query requires little or no research in most cases and is very similar to consulting an expert as part of your everyday role. For instance, you cannot claim posting a query to Specialist Support Unit, or asking a college at work – so we cannot allow posting queries online.

We considered continuing to allow answering queries as responses usually include some technical information and research. However, we cannot differentiate between those who simply know the answer and those who had to spend time researching the answer.

On balance the majority of posts whether queries or responses, have not been of sufficient technical level in the past. For all of the reasons above it was felt these posts created more problems than they solved.

Current guidance is not to allow these posts.

I attend have various forums – can I count all of them?

Money Advice Groups (MAGs) are always likely to count as they incorporate technical discussion, developments and guest speakers. Forums are no different to other activities. The content must be relevant to money advice and develop technical aspects of money advice. Most discussion forums do provide the opportunity to develop, but the subject matter is always crucial.

We differentiate between MAGs and other meetings as MAGs score 3 points as opposed to 2 for other meetings. This decision was made based on the high level of technical content delivered at MAGs.

Are there exceptions to the above?

There is no rule that ‘planning’ type meetings do not count. We will consider submissions but we are likely to request evidence. If the emphasis is on evaluating a project, planning, implementing a new initiative, targets, performance or strategic aims it is not likely to count.

It is difficult to provide examples of what is allowable but if the planning requires technical money advice discussion it might still attract points.

I have attended panning meetings/AGMs and steering groups for projects I am involved in. Can I claim these?

In most cases no – these types of meetings focus on implementing and evaluating ways of working, initiatives and performance etc. Whilst essential for the direction of a project/agency these are generally not applicable to CPD as they do not develop technical money advice knowledge.

We invited someone to our agency to speak to us. Will this count?

In some instances internal meetings have included outside speakers. Although this does not ensure the meeting will be counted it does indicate it was out of the ordinary. The role of the speaker and what was discussed will still be important.

If the speaker is an enforcement agent manager discussing the new regulations, an Insolvency Practitioner discussing IVA technicalities, or an Official Receiver offering a Q&A session, this is likely to count. These examples have been submitted and agreed as they develop technical knowledge but others can be considered case by case.

If the talk is from a local charity wishing to receive referrals to offer support to clients, or is from a service discussing products they offer, it is not likely to count. Again there will be other examples but these are hopefully indicative.

As with all CPD activities, we only allow them if we are satisfied they are at caseworker level or above and develop technical knowledge. We are likely to seek evidence of the agenda, notes, hand outs etc and we will be looking for many of the same indicative factors as in question 8 (informal training). For that reason, if it is included it is more likely to be accepted within the training’ category.

Can I count team meetings at work?

We are asked this many times throughout the year and we may assess these individually. The rule of thumb is that we would not count these as they are part of your job and you are required to attend them. They usually discuss service delivery issues, targets and implementing new procedures/IT as opposed to technical money advice problems, so usually do not count.

However, if you feel a meeting was convened especially to discuss technical issues such as new regulations, rules or case law and its implications for advisers, this might count.

We are likely to seek evidence of the agenda, notes, hand outs etc and we will be looking for many of the same indicative factors as in question 8 (informal training). For that reason, if it is included it is more likely to be accepted within the ‘training’ category.

I attended a full day meeting with a mixed-topic agenda. Some topics were money advice related and others were less so. What can I count?

One example during the previous year was an anti-poverty conference where agenda items included ‘interventions to tackle debt and financial-exclusion’ but also ‘how and why to pay the living wage.’ Whereas the entire day may be helpful, only some aspects are strictly related to money advice. In such cases the IMA may use discretion to award points on a pro-rata basis. This would be calculated based on the approximate time or number of allowable activities as a proportion of the entire event.

I have attended a full day conference recently where the content related to issues like future funding consultation, quality assurance and Debt Management Guidance. Can I count this as a full day conference (4.5 points) as it includes strategic issues rather than technical money advice issues?

Yes – you could count 4.5 points for a full conference providing the content of the conference programme is relevant to money advice. Members should ensure that they keep the conference programme as evidence and contact for us advice if they are not sure about the content. As conferences cater for mass audiences and attendees will be from a variety of roles, they tend to be strategic and more broadly themed than smaller meetings and training sessions where we expect a closer more specialised focus.

I have shadowed an expert in a given area to increase my skill. Can I count the time I spent with them as training?

If you took time out of your ordinary role to attend a session at court with solicitors for example, this might count. You are making a separate effort similar to attending a training course, and will develop knowledge and skills. You would count 2 points as informal training provided there was direct relevance to money advice.

If you sat with a colleague in your agency as their next case involved an issue you wanted to develop your knowledge in, or if they are more experienced in giving advice on a particular issue, we would not allow this. We see this as ‘on the job’ training and part of your role.

I have recently started a new role and the methods of working at the new agency are different to my old role. Can I count the training on my role/induction for CPD?

No – it is essential you undertake an induction and/or initial training so you can assimilate to a new role. Much of this will concentrate on working practices and procedures as opposed to money advice. It would not count for CPD purposes as it is part of your role to undertake this training AND primarily the training is not developing technical money advice knowledge.

We have recently employed new staff. I have been asked to mentor a new starter for 1 month reviewing their quality of advice, interview skills and providing feedback. Can I count this?

No – as above, although this might not be part of your regular routine it is commensurate with being skilled and experienced. We would see this as part of your role overall and so would not allow points.

I supervise staff as part of my role. Can I count file reviews and supervision sessions as training?

No – these are part of your role. Even if you are an experienced adviser as opposed to a supervisor, it is commensurate with the role to assist less experienced advisers.

I have completed the Money Advice Service online assessment, Giving Good Debt Advice. Can I claim points for this?

As Giving Good Debt Advice is a test of your existing knowledge, the online assessments do not count towards our Continuing Professional Development (CPD) scheme.

CPD activities must be a development from CertMAP, so the optional e-learning up to and including caseworker/specialist level, will also not count for CPD.

The optional e-learning at ‘court representation’ level is additional to the material in CertMAP and will contribute 1 point towards your annual CPD.

I carried out some research for a case I was working on. In doing so I recognised a training need for the team. I then delivered training to the team. Can I count this?

The initial research was part of the everyday role of an adviser so would not count. However, provided the informal training contained the factors from question 8 you can count 2 points for delivery and 2 points for the writing of the materials required to deliver a structured session. As always we would have to be satisfied the course content was of caseworker level or higher.

We have an arrangement in our organisation where one of the team goes onto a training course and then we have a training session where they relay the content to the rest of the team. What points can be claimed for this?

Providing the level of the course was adequate, the person who attended the formal training will claim 4.5 points for the training session. They may also be able to claim 2 points for delivering informal training to the rest of the team. We expect that the informal training will contain:

  • A training plan including clear aims, objectives and expected learning outcomes
  • Learning material/supporting information (such as notes, handouts, set exercises, power-points etc)
  • Administration details (paper or electronic) confirming date, time and location of training, names of attendees/learners and the trainer, attendance certificates or electronic confirmation.
  • Some kind of trainer and course evaluation which would usually include monitoring feedback from attendees

Simply handing out copied course materials will not count. There is little development in this process without the structure above which ensures putting training into practice. Cascading information is not adequate.

We must reiterate the training must be of caseworker level or higher. The rest of the team will be able to claim 2 points each for attending informal training.

I have used the resources provided by another service to deliver training to staff . Can I count points for this?

Yes, so long as those resources include some or all of the materials listed in question 8, you could count 2 points for delivery but not 3 points for the writing and research element as the materials have been created by someone else. The course content has to be at caseworker level or above.

Can I count time I spend writing a new training course? For example I wrote a new training course based on the Control of Good Regulations 2013

Yes – you can claim 3 points for the writing and research of a new informal training course (we would not double count – for example 3 points for writing and 3 points for research). You can also claim 2 points for delivering the training. You can only count the writing and delivery of the same course once, even if you update materials.

I have attended/written/delivered a financial capability course. Does this count?

In the past we have accepted financial capability work without much consideration. The IMA is aware that some funding has an emphasis on this area of work and requires it to be integrated with money advice. Therefore we do expect many members to undertake financial capability activities in the near future.

There is no rule to say it will always count or not. Some financial capability work is not at a sufficient technical level. Other courses related to the teaching and delivery of financial capability sessions are very useful, but develop your teaching, facilitating and writing skills as opposed to money advice knowledge.

Some financial capability meetings will also discuss quite technical issues relating rights under consumer/credit legislation and educating people on these, whereas other meetings will focus on project delivery, planning and evaluation. Some are a mixture of all of these factors.

We ask that you provide as much of an explanation as you can on your record sheet and be prepared to submit evidence if asked.

I provide advice in various areas of law and therefore attend a variety of training events. Can I count all of these towards my CPD points for IMA Accreditation?

This depends on the subject matter of the course. Housing and Welfare Rights are closely linked with Money Advice and therefore some of these activities are acceptable. If you are not sure about an activity you can email cpd@i-m-a.org.uk to check. The following is for guidance only.

We are likely to count welfare rights courses regarding:

  • General benefit awareness and entitlement as part of income maximisation
  • Welfare Reform changes and most notably PIP, Universal Credit and also sanction rules
  • Backdating rules and challenging liability for overpayments
  • Knowledge of the appeal process to help manage deadlines, emergencies and some liability issues

We are unlikely to award points for:

  • Representing at tribunals – this is more technical than the general awareness needed for money advice roles
  • Upper-tier tribunals

For housing we are likely to award points for:

  • Rent and mortgage repossession including ‘section 21’ notices
  • Arrears management options
  • Income maximisation issues such as backdating benefit, or awareness of safety deposit rules (albeit you might refer the case out)

We are not likely to award points for:

  • Technical defences to rent possession such as disrepair
  • Issues relating to unfair tenancy terms, discrimination, anti-social behaviour
  • Homelessness and allocation procedures

We do not foresee awarding points for most employment or immigration courses. We accept that money advisers will find all of the above useful. However, the CPD scheme accredits activities of practical use for the money advice aspect of your role and not the other areas of law. As a broad rule, if the subject is something you would usually have to refer to a specialist housing or benefit adviser, we are not likely to award points. All of the above is guidance as opposed to a rule.

Can I claim the same number of points for informal and formal training?

Please see the ‘activity table’for what points can be counted depending on delivery method, course length and whether formal or informal.

I attended a course entitled (for example) ‘Mental health and debt’ so surely this will count?

It is likely to yes. The difference here is that the course links mental health to debt specifically. The course outline, activities, materials and discussions will relate mental health to debt as opposed to general awareness. This is a key distinction.

If you are unsure please ask by emailing cpd@i-m-a.org.uk. There are very fine lines to be drawn in some cases.

So, what are the examples of courses that do not count?

Training programmes are updated regularly so it is easier to list possible topics that may not count. Of course there might be others. Courses covering the following are still useful but their focus is not on money advice law.

  • Addiction/Dementia/Disability/Mental health awareness
  • Presentations that ‘sell a service’ – for example; a local charity raising awareness of what they do
  • Implementing new IT/new procedures/new ways of working
  • Interview skills
  • Data Protection training or other broader regulatory issues
  • Health and Safety training
  • Courses that are basic and under caseworker level, perhaps about using the CFS, introductory debt courses etc. Please consider as a CPD participant you are an experienced worker holding the CertMAP qualification. These are not likely to develop your knowledge.

The scheme does not wish to undermine these courses. They serve a very important role for new debt workers, for improving the efficiency of services and also for increasing understanding of client’s lives. However, the narrow focus on money advice law is purposeful in order that compliance with the scheme is a reliable indication of an adviser’s technical ability.

Do all IMA and Wiseradviser courses attract points?

No –there are some course that are offered that are useful for the adviser but not focussed on developing a technical aspect of money advice knowledge. See below for some examples. Most courses run by the IMA and Wiseradviser count but if you are unsure please email cpd@i-m-a.org.uk

Can I count attending a Wiseradviser DRO Workshop as CPD activity? It is essential as part of my application to become an Approved Intermediary (AI).

Yes – a half day formal training workshop is worth 2 points. This may be essential to become an AI but is not essential for the role of debt adviser, so we do allow this.

What is the difference between formal and informal training?

The essential difference is that a formal training course/programme will be accredited by a body such as Money Advice Service or Skills Mark OR they are provided by a recognised provider such as the IMA, Wiser Adviser or Citizens Advice for example. Informal training should however share many of the same characteristics such as:

  • A training plan including clear aims, objectives and expected learning outcomes
  • Learning material/supporting information (such as notes, hand outs, set exercises, power-points etc)
  • Administration details (paper or electronic) confirming date, time and location of training, names of attendees/learners and the trainer, attendance certificates or electronic confirmation.
  • Some kind of trainer and course evaluation which would usually include monitoring feedback from attendees
I completed an activity that took longer in hours than the number of points you award. Can I count the actual time spent?

Generally we use standard ‘tariff’ for practical reasons –see the ‘activity table’document. It is not viable for us to check every course and meeting for actual length. The only time we can count actual time spent is when somebody undertakes a qualification. Please see question 33for more detail. If you receive a certificate stating that you can claim more than we award (the common example being a full-day training course awarding more then 4.5) please let us know. The IMA scheme was modelled on the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) CPD scheme, but this no longer exists to accredit different training providers. We have discretion but the rule of thumb is that we follow the tariff on the activity table.

Our organisation has reached the end of its budget for training and I need to accumulate CPD points for continued accreditation, what do you suggest?

There are several things you can do. Participating in many of the CPD activities does not have a cost associated; for example, Social Policy activities, online training, reading and research, podcasts and delivering training. The IMA is aware of how tight funding is and so we have designed the scheme to be as economically reasonable as possible but in order to keep your knowledge and skills current there is likely to be a cost element. It may also be helpful to provide your line-manager with details of the CPD scheme and they may contact us with any questions.

I have read that you ask 10% of participants for evidence of activities after the submission deadline, yet the IMA has asked me for evidence even before the deadline. Why is this?

It is true that we do seek evidence from a 10% sample. This is a general audit so we can check the level of activities undertaken. However, if we see an activity on a record or receive a query about an activity that we feel we can only judge with evidence we will ask. One alternative would be not to allow such activities but we would prefer to give you the chance to prove the case.

Will there be any changes to this scheme?

Yes –we want to make sure that this scheme continues to be fair and robust. We will review the scheme at the end of every year and will notify members of any changes.

The scheme is very tough –is this on purpose?

Yes – we want the scheme to show that not only is somebody capable, but that they are continuing to progress and develop. To be a reliable badge of your technical money advice knowledge the scheme only awards points for money advice focussed activities. Currently, we feel extending the remit would weaken the scheme. For those who comply, we want accreditation to be a recognisable achievement like CertMAP and not something easily attained.

What is the sufficient level of an activity for it to attract CPD points?

Throughout this guidance you will read terms such as ‘caseworker and above’, ‘sufficient technical merit’ and  ‘area  of  law  of  money  advice.’  The  scheme  leads  on  from  the  CertMAP  qualification  and  as  such, assumes  you  are  already  working  at  a  competent  level.  Therefore  activities  must  show  that  you  are developing your money advice knowledge beyond CertMAP.

It is accepted that legislation and practice changes so refreshing your knowledge on familiar topics such as charging orders is acceptable. However, if we deem an activity to be too basic or routine we may not allow it.

Equally  they  must  develop  your  technical  knowledge  rather  than  practical  ability.  So  we  are  generally looking for subject matter as opposed to planning services, assuring quality, integrating IT or new ways of working etc.

Finally, we understand some courses help you understand client’s problems better such as mental health or addiction awareness course. However if the focus is not money advice we will not allow points for this. Please ask if you are unsure by emailing cpd@i-m-a.org.uk.

What should I do if I have a query about my CPD record?

Get in touch with us using the email cpd@i-m-a.org.uk – It is better to ask us if you are not sure about something rather than wait until it’s too late.

General

I completed an activity that took longer in hours than the number of points you award. Can I count the actual time spent?

Generally we use standard ‘tariff’ for practical reasons –see the ‘activity table’document. It is not viable for us to check every course and meeting for actual length. The only time we can count actual time spent is when somebody undertakes a qualification. Please see question 33for more detail. If you receive a certificate stating that you can claim more than we award (the common example being a full-day training course awarding more then 4.5) please let us know. The IMA scheme was modelled on the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) CPD scheme, but this no longer exists to accredit different training providers. We have discretion but the rule of thumb is that we follow the tariff on the activity table.

Our organisation has reached the end of its budget for training and I need to accumulate CPD points for continued accreditation, what do you suggest?

There are several things you can do. Participating in many of the CPD activities does not have a cost associated; for example, Social Policy activities, online training, reading and research, podcasts and delivering training. The IMA is aware of how tight funding is and so we have designed the scheme to be as economically reasonable as possible but in order to keep your knowledge and skills current there is likely to be a cost element. It may also be helpful to provide your line-manager with details of the CPD scheme and they may contact us with any questions.

I have read that you ask 10% of participants for evidence of activities after the submission deadline, yet the IMA has asked me for evidence even before the deadline. Why is this?

It is true that we do seek evidence from a 10% sample. This is a general audit so we can check the level of activities undertaken. However, if we see an activity on a record or receive a query about an activity that we feel we can only judge with evidence we will ask. One alternative would be not to allow such activities but we would prefer to give you the chance to prove the case.

Will there be any changes to this scheme?

Yes –we want to make sure that this scheme continues to be fair and robust. We will review the scheme at the end of every year and will notify members of any changes.

The scheme is very tough –is this on purpose?

Yes – we want the scheme to show that not only is somebody capable, but that they are continuing to progress and develop. To be a reliable badge of your technical money advice knowledge the scheme only awards points for money advice focussed activities. Currently, we feel extending the remit would weaken the scheme. For those who comply, we want accreditation to be a recognisable achievement like CertMAP and not something easily attained.

What is the sufficient level of an activity for it to attract CPD points?

Throughout this guidance you will read terms such as ‘caseworker and above’, ‘sufficient technical merit’ and  ‘area  of  law  of  money  advice.’  The  scheme  leads  on  from  the  CertMAP  qualification  and  as  such, assumes  you  are  already  working  at  a  competent  level.  Therefore  activities  must  show  that  you  are developing your money advice knowledge beyond CertMAP.

It is accepted that legislation and practice changes so refreshing your knowledge on familiar topics such as charging orders is acceptable. However, if we deem an activity to be too basic or routine we may not allow it.

Equally  they  must  develop  your  technical  knowledge  rather  than  practical  ability.  So  we  are  generally looking for subject matter as opposed to planning services, assuring quality, integrating IT or new ways of working etc.

Finally, we understand some courses help you understand client’s problems better such as mental health or addiction awareness course. However if the focus is not money advice we will not allow points for this. Please ask if you are unsure by emailing cpd@i-m-a.org.uk.

What should I do if I have a query about my CPD record?

Get in touch with us using the email cpd@i-m-a.org.uk – It is better to ask us if you are not sure about something rather than wait until it’s too late.

Training

I have shadowed an expert in a given area to increase my skill. Can I count the time I spent with them as training?

If you took time out of your ordinary role to attend a session at court with solicitors for example, this might count. You are making a separate effort similar to attending a training course, and will develop knowledge and skills. You would count 2 points as informal training provided there was direct relevance to money advice.

If you sat with a colleague in your agency as their next case involved an issue you wanted to develop your knowledge in, or if they are more experienced in giving advice on a particular issue, we would not allow this. We see this as ‘on the job’ training and part of your role.

I have recently started a new role and the methods of working at the new agency are different to my old role. Can I count the training on my role/induction for CPD?

No – it is essential you undertake an induction and/or initial training so you can assimilate to a new role. Much of this will concentrate on working practices and procedures as opposed to money advice. It would not count for CPD purposes as it is part of your role to undertake this training AND primarily the training is not developing technical money advice knowledge.

We have recently employed new staff. I have been asked to mentor a new starter for 1 month reviewing their quality of advice, interview skills and providing feedback. Can I count this?

No – as above, although this might not be part of your regular routine it is commensurate with being skilled and experienced. We would see this as part of your role overall and so would not allow points.

I supervise staff as part of my role. Can I count file reviews and supervision sessions as training?

No – these are part of your role. Even if you are an experienced adviser as opposed to a supervisor, it is commensurate with the role to assist less experienced advisers.

I have completed the Money Advice Service online assessment, Giving Good Debt Advice. Can I claim points for this?

As Giving Good Debt Advice is a test of your existing knowledge, the online assessments do not count towards our Continuing Professional Development (CPD) scheme.

CPD activities must be a development from CertMAP, so the optional e-learning up to and including caseworker/specialist level, will also not count for CPD.

The optional e-learning at ‘court representation’ level is additional to the material in CertMAP and will contribute 1 point towards your annual CPD.

I carried out some research for a case I was working on. In doing so I recognised a training need for the team. I then delivered training to the team. Can I count this?

The initial research was part of the everyday role of an adviser so would not count. However, provided the informal training contained the factors from question 8 you can count 2 points for delivery and 2 points for the writing of the materials required to deliver a structured session. As always we would have to be satisfied the course content was of caseworker level or higher.

We have an arrangement in our organisation where one of the team goes onto a training course and then we have a training session where they relay the content to the rest of the team. What points can be claimed for this?

Providing the level of the course was adequate, the person who attended the formal training will claim 4.5 points for the training session. They may also be able to claim 2 points for delivering informal training to the rest of the team. We expect that the informal training will contain:

  • A training plan including clear aims, objectives and expected learning outcomes
  • Learning material/supporting information (such as notes, handouts, set exercises, power-points etc)
  • Administration details (paper or electronic) confirming date, time and location of training, names of attendees/learners and the trainer, attendance certificates or electronic confirmation.
  • Some kind of trainer and course evaluation which would usually include monitoring feedback from attendees

Simply handing out copied course materials will not count. There is little development in this process without the structure above which ensures putting training into practice. Cascading information is not adequate.

We must reiterate the training must be of caseworker level or higher. The rest of the team will be able to claim 2 points each for attending informal training.

I have used the resources provided by another service to deliver training to staff . Can I count points for this?

Yes, so long as those resources include some or all of the materials listed in question 8, you could count 2 points for delivery but not 3 points for the writing and research element as the materials have been created by someone else. The course content has to be at caseworker level or above.

Can I count time I spend writing a new training course? For example I wrote a new training course based on the Control of Good Regulations 2013

Yes – you can claim 3 points for the writing and research of a new informal training course (we would not double count – for example 3 points for writing and 3 points for research). You can also claim 2 points for delivering the training. You can only count the writing and delivery of the same course once, even if you update materials.

I have attended/written/delivered a financial capability course. Does this count?

In the past we have accepted financial capability work without much consideration. The IMA is aware that some funding has an emphasis on this area of work and requires it to be integrated with money advice. Therefore we do expect many members to undertake financial capability activities in the near future.

There is no rule to say it will always count or not. Some financial capability work is not at a sufficient technical level. Other courses related to the teaching and delivery of financial capability sessions are very useful, but develop your teaching, facilitating and writing skills as opposed to money advice knowledge.

Some financial capability meetings will also discuss quite technical issues relating rights under consumer/credit legislation and educating people on these, whereas other meetings will focus on project delivery, planning and evaluation. Some are a mixture of all of these factors.

We ask that you provide as much of an explanation as you can on your record sheet and be prepared to submit evidence if asked.

I provide advice in various areas of law and therefore attend a variety of training events. Can I count all of these towards my CPD points for IMA Accreditation?

This depends on the subject matter of the course. Housing and Welfare Rights are closely linked with Money Advice and therefore some of these activities are acceptable. If you are not sure about an activity you can email cpd@i-m-a.org.uk to check. The following is for guidance only.

We are likely to count welfare rights courses regarding:

  • General benefit awareness and entitlement as part of income maximisation
  • Welfare Reform changes and most notably PIP, Universal Credit and also sanction rules
  • Backdating rules and challenging liability for overpayments
  • Knowledge of the appeal process to help manage deadlines, emergencies and some liability issues

We are unlikely to award points for:

  • Representing at tribunals – this is more technical than the general awareness needed for money advice roles
  • Upper-tier tribunals

For housing we are likely to award points for:

  • Rent and mortgage repossession including ‘section 21’ notices
  • Arrears management options
  • Income maximisation issues such as backdating benefit, or awareness of safety deposit rules (albeit you might refer the case out)

We are not likely to award points for:

  • Technical defences to rent possession such as disrepair
  • Issues relating to unfair tenancy terms, discrimination, anti-social behaviour
  • Homelessness and allocation procedures

We do not foresee awarding points for most employment or immigration courses. We accept that money advisers will find all of the above useful. However, the CPD scheme accredits activities of practical use for the money advice aspect of your role and not the other areas of law. As a broad rule, if the subject is something you would usually have to refer to a specialist housing or benefit adviser, we are not likely to award points. All of the above is guidance as opposed to a rule.

Can I claim the same number of points for informal and formal training?

Please see the ‘activity table’for what points can be counted depending on delivery method, course length and whether formal or informal.

I attended a course entitled (for example) ‘Mental health and debt’ so surely this will count?

It is likely to yes. The difference here is that the course links mental health to debt specifically. The course outline, activities, materials and discussions will relate mental health to debt as opposed to general awareness. This is a key distinction.

If you are unsure please ask by emailing cpd@i-m-a.org.uk. There are very fine lines to be drawn in some cases.

So, what are the examples of courses that do not count?

Training programmes are updated regularly so it is easier to list possible topics that may not count. Of course there might be others. Courses covering the following are still useful but their focus is not on money advice law.

  • Addiction/Dementia/Disability/Mental health awareness
  • Presentations that ‘sell a service’ – for example; a local charity raising awareness of what they do
  • Implementing new IT/new procedures/new ways of working
  • Interview skills
  • Data Protection training or other broader regulatory issues
  • Health and Safety training
  • Courses that are basic and under caseworker level, perhaps about using the CFS, introductory debt courses etc. Please consider as a CPD participant you are an experienced worker holding the CertMAP qualification. These are not likely to develop your knowledge.

The scheme does not wish to undermine these courses. They serve a very important role for new debt workers, for improving the efficiency of services and also for increasing understanding of client’s lives. However, the narrow focus on money advice law is purposeful in order that compliance with the scheme is a reliable indication of an adviser’s technical ability.

Do all IMA and Wiseradviser courses attract points?

No –there are some course that are offered that are useful for the adviser but not focussed on developing a technical aspect of money advice knowledge. See below for some examples. Most courses run by the IMA and Wiseradviser count but if you are unsure please email cpd@i-m-a.org.uk

Can I count attending a Wiseradviser DRO Workshop as CPD activity? It is essential as part of my application to become an Approved Intermediary (AI).

Yes – a half day formal training workshop is worth 2 points. This may be essential to become an AI but is not essential for the role of debt adviser, so we do allow this.

What is the difference between formal and informal training?

The essential difference is that a formal training course/programme will be accredited by a body such as Money Advice Service or Skills Mark OR they are provided by a recognised provider such as the IMA, Wiser Adviser or Citizens Advice for example. Informal training should however share many of the same characteristics such as:

  • A training plan including clear aims, objectives and expected learning outcomes
  • Learning material/supporting information (such as notes, hand outs, set exercises, power-points etc)
  • Administration details (paper or electronic) confirming date, time and location of training, names of attendees/learners and the trainer, attendance certificates or electronic confirmation.
  • Some kind of trainer and course evaluation which would usually include monitoring feedback from attendees

Meetings/Discussion Forums

I have posted a query/answered a query on a web forum. Can I count this?

We used to allow these but have now changed our guidance. The quality of the submissions varied and due to this we had to check each and every one. Secondly, to post a query requires little or no research in most cases and is very similar to consulting an expert as part of your everyday role. For instance, you cannot claim posting a query to Specialist Support Unit, or asking a college at work – so we cannot allow posting queries online.

We considered continuing to allow answering queries as responses usually include some technical information and research. However, we cannot differentiate between those who simply know the answer and those who had to spend time researching the answer.

On balance the majority of posts whether queries or responses, have not been of sufficient technical level in the past. For all of the reasons above it was felt these posts created more problems than they solved.

Current guidance is not to allow these posts.

I attend have various forums – can I count all of them?

Money Advice Groups (MAGs) are always likely to count as they incorporate technical discussion, developments and guest speakers. Forums are no different to other activities. The content must be relevant to money advice and develop technical aspects of money advice. Most discussion forums do provide the opportunity to develop, but the subject matter is always crucial.

We differentiate between MAGs and other meetings as MAGs score 3 points as opposed to 2 for other meetings. This decision was made based on the high level of technical content delivered at MAGs.

Are there exceptions to the above?

There is no rule that ‘planning’ type meetings do not count. We will consider submissions but we are likely to request evidence. If the emphasis is on evaluating a project, planning, implementing a new initiative, targets, performance or strategic aims it is not likely to count.

It is difficult to provide examples of what is allowable but if the planning requires technical money advice discussion it might still attract points.

I have attended panning meetings/AGMs and steering groups for projects I am involved in. Can I claim these?

In most cases no – these types of meetings focus on implementing and evaluating ways of working, initiatives and performance etc. Whilst essential for the direction of a project/agency these are generally not applicable to CPD as they do not develop technical money advice knowledge.

We invited someone to our agency to speak to us. Will this count?

In some instances internal meetings have included outside speakers. Although this does not ensure the meeting will be counted it does indicate it was out of the ordinary. The role of the speaker and what was discussed will still be important.

If the speaker is an enforcement agent manager discussing the new regulations, an Insolvency Practitioner discussing IVA technicalities, or an Official Receiver offering a Q&A session, this is likely to count. These examples have been submitted and agreed as they develop technical knowledge but others can be considered case by case.

If the talk is from a local charity wishing to receive referrals to offer support to clients, or is from a service discussing products they offer, it is not likely to count. Again there will be other examples but these are hopefully indicative.

As with all CPD activities, we only allow them if we are satisfied they are at caseworker level or above and develop technical knowledge. We are likely to seek evidence of the agenda, notes, hand outs etc and we will be looking for many of the same indicative factors as in question 8 (informal training). For that reason, if it is included it is more likely to be accepted within the training’ category.

Can I count team meetings at work?

We are asked this many times throughout the year and we may assess these individually. The rule of thumb is that we would not count these as they are part of your job and you are required to attend them. They usually discuss service delivery issues, targets and implementing new procedures/IT as opposed to technical money advice problems, so usually do not count.

However, if you feel a meeting was convened especially to discuss technical issues such as new regulations, rules or case law and its implications for advisers, this might count.

We are likely to seek evidence of the agenda, notes, hand outs etc and we will be looking for many of the same indicative factors as in question 8 (informal training). For that reason, if it is included it is more likely to be accepted within the ‘training’ category.

I attended a full day meeting with a mixed-topic agenda. Some topics were money advice related and others were less so. What can I count?

One example during the previous year was an anti-poverty conference where agenda items included ‘interventions to tackle debt and financial-exclusion’ but also ‘how and why to pay the living wage.’ Whereas the entire day may be helpful, only some aspects are strictly related to money advice. In such cases the IMA may use discretion to award points on a pro-rata basis. This would be calculated based on the approximate time or number of allowable activities as a proportion of the entire event.

I have attended a full day conference recently where the content related to issues like future funding consultation, quality assurance and Debt Management Guidance. Can I count this as a full day conference (4.5 points) as it includes strategic issues rather than technical money advice issues?

Yes – you could count 4.5 points for a full conference providing the content of the conference programme is relevant to money advice. Members should ensure that they keep the conference programme as evidence and contact for us advice if they are not sure about the content. As conferences cater for mass audiences and attendees will be from a variety of roles, they tend to be strategic and more broadly themed than smaller meetings and training sessions where we expect a closer more specialised focus.

Qualifications

I completed a qualification. How do I count the points?

You have 2 options essentially:

  • Wait until you have completed the whole qualification and have passed the exam/assessment. Count the actual time spent on the whole qualification even if this has spanned more than one CPD period. We are likely to check how long the course outline states this should take.
  • If there are individually completed modules/units, submit them separately within the CPD period in which they were completed – again claiming the time you have actually spent on the module.

As with question 32 we may seek evidence as to how much of the qualification applied/was applied to money advice in order to work out what we will allow for CPD purposes.

There are very few qualifications that are money advice specific, so what can I count

Many qualifications will offer modules that can be practically applied to money advice. A law course may offer the chance to research consumer credit or insolvency law for example. Many of these will be decided on case by case. We usually request a link to the course and module descriptors/outlines.

The money advice aspect must not be secondary to the main outcome of the module. For example, a teaching course will usually improve your ability to deliver eaching/training sessions, plan sessions and account for access and equality issues. It is not likely to develop your technical knowledge of money advice which is the concern of the CPD scheme.

Reading, Writing and Research

I have responded to a consultation on (for example) insolvency reform. Can I count this?

Whether you respond as part of your agency response or individually, you are normally expressing an opinion. We may allow 2 points but are likely to require evidence.

Can I count Social Policy activities? They are part of my role as an adviser.

You may count some social policy but not one off contributions such as evidence forms. In CABx these are known as eBEFs but for members from other agencies, the equivalent is if you create a single case-specific report on a policy issue affecting a particular client. These singular responses are usually part of the role of an adviser.

However, if you collate various case studies and create a report based on a recurrent policy issue this takes time. You are usually required to research the law that creates the problem, gather relevant case studies and evidence and write a substantial document. Such social policy reports would gain 2 points.

If you have contributed to a report but not written the whole document we may conside r this on a case by case basis, possibly requiring evidence.

I subscribe to a podcast weekly/monthly. Can I count every one of these?

The IMA cannot check each and every podcast if there are high numbers. We do not have the capacity to do this. Therefore we would ask that you select a sample of podcasts that you think are of sufficiently high technical merit. You have to include activities from 3 of 4 categories therefore you will have other points from other categories in any case. Podcasts sit within the ‘Reading/writing/research’ category.

We review the scheme and if there becomes an over-reliance on podcasts we may change our guidance.

I have listened to a podcast. Can I count this?

We see very few but a growing number. We allow 1 point per podcast where we agree to award any points. There are some guiding principles:

  • As always, the subject matter has to relate to the area of law of money advice and be of sufficient technical nature
  • The podcast must be a minimum of 20 minutes in length
  • If possible we ask that you provide the date, presenter/author, subject matter and URL if available online
Can I claim research and writing separately where they form part of the same task, for example, creating new training, writing an article or social policy report?

No, they are so closely linked. We allow 2 points for the whole process of producing the materials and you can claim this as either ‘research’ or ‘writing.’ You would not usually research something without then writing a document afterwards, certainly as far as the CPD scheme is concerned.

What counts as a writing activity?

This sub-category is quite limited and linked to training and research in most case. Remember ‘research/writing/reading’ is one category and purposefully so as they are so closely linked together. Writing might include:

  • An article for a journal
  • New training materials
  • A social policy report

We do not allow the updating of call-prompts, fact sheets, attendance notes, revision of training etc.

What counts as research? I have to do research for cases all the time so can I count this?

Research sits on quite a fine line. We would not allow research where it is prompted by an everyday task. One example is when a case you are handling includes a technical aspect that you have to research in order to provide best advice. This could be consulting Adviser Net, the Debt Advice Handbook, Specialist Support Unit or other expert – it is part of the role of an adviser to do this so this will not count.

2 points could be claimed if you conducted research:

  • In order to write and deliver training (you would count this under ‘training’ as opposed to ‘research’ and see question 16 for how points are awarded)
  • To research law to contribute to a social policy report (see also question 41 on social policy)
  • To produce an article for Quarterly Account or other journal
  • Other examples can be decided on a case by case basis and you should be prepared to present evidence if asked on any of the above
What is reading and what is research?

It is hard to distinguish sometimes but we would expect reading to be for no particular purpose – for example reading a journal such as QA.

We expect research to be undertaken with a purpose in mind, such as creating training, social policy reports or an article. It is better to claim this as research as there is no cap on research, but a cap of 2 points per annum for reading.

Why is there a limit on reading to a maximum of 2 points? I learn a lot from reading journals.

The IMA felt that a limit was important to encourage CPD participants to access activities of a broad range. The scheme also has to be seen to be stringent and we want MIMA (Cert) status to reflect a year of development and achievement. In some instances reading was too large a proportion of points to ensure active learning was taking place. The rule was introduced to take effect from November 2013.

CertMAP FAQ

What do I study?

CertMAP covers the core aspects of a caseworker’s role:

  • Working with clients, interviews, budgeting skills and income maximisation
  • Emergency, priority and non-priority debts with legislation, rules and codes of practice
  • Insolvency and debt relief options including how to contest liability
  • County, High and Magistrate Court processes and types of enforcement
  • Cases and caseload management
  • Office procedures including confidentiality, data protection and health & safety considerations
  • Influencing and campaigning
How do I study?
  • CertMAP is studied over 12 weeks with 150 hours of content and we recommend 12.5 hours per week.
  • You study through Staffordshire University’s online learning system. Learning materials and further reading are available to download. Discussion forums enable you to share ideas with other students.
  • There are weekly ‘milestone tests’ which are mix of quizzes, case studies and discussion board tasks. These do not count towards your mark but help to keep you engaged
  • The final exam is also held online and has a pass mark of 70%
What are the entry requirements?

The entry requirements are:

  • 1 year current full-time experience in a money advice role (or part-time equivalent) OR
  • 2 years previous full-time experience in money advice (or part-time equivalent) OR
  • Any other relevant experience that we will consider on a case by case basis

To study CertMAP, you MUST be a member of the IMA with membership fees paid up to date. Find out more about membership and benefits here.

Is CertMAP recognised within the money advice sector?

CertMAP, is accredited by the Money Advice Service (MAS) to caseworker/specialist level.. Recognition from MAS means that CertMAP plays a key role in assuring quality of advice across the sector. Read more about MAS accreditation here.

Many organisations state CertMAP is an essential or desirable qualification in job recruitment.

What is IMA accreditation?

Unlike MAS accreditation, which accredits organisations, IMA accreditation is about the individual. We accredit members who pass CertMAP and allow them to use MIMA (Cert) after their name. IMA accreditation is evidence that the individual is a competent adviser and desirable to employers, funders and strategic partners.

You maintain IMA accreditation by complying with the IMA Continuing Professional Development (CPD) scheme.

How much does CertMAP cost?

Due to our strategic partnership with Staffordshire University, we are able to offer this 15 Credit Higher Education certificate at a significantly lower cost than equivalent HE qualifications.

The full cost of the course is currently £520 per student.

The Thames Water Trust Fund kindly provides bursary support.  Currently, if you are working in the Thames Water region, you are eligible to apply for a bursary of £360, which means you will only have to contribute £160 towards the cost of studying CertMAP. This is subject to change with any price increase for the course.

The above bursaries are administered by the IMA.  Please do not approach the trust funds directly.

The IMA has also allocated a small amount of its own funds to support advisers in exceptional circumstances who are unable to afford the full cost of study. This funding will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and priority will be given to those in greatest need. This support is for £320, meaning those receiving it pay only £200. To find out more, please email us at qualifications@i-m-a.org.uk.

When is the next cohort?

Applications are now open for the April 2019 CertMAP course – for further information and to request an application pack, please email us at qualifications@i-m-a.org.uk. The application deadline is 8 March 2019. Please be aware that places a places are limited and could be filled before 8 March.

The course starts on 8 April and the online examination will take place on and 13 July. Please note that you need to be an IMA member in order to apply.

How do I apply?

See here to apply.

DRO

What is a Debt Relief Order?

DROs came into force in April 2009. In contrast to other forms of debt relief, they are not available through the court system. Instead the orders are made by an Official Receiver. An application for a DRO can be made online through an Approved Intermediary who is an authorised, skilled debt adviser.

Once an order is made, creditors who are included in the DRO will then be prevented from taking any action to recover or enforce their debts against the debtor. Generally, those debts will be discharged at the end of one year.

You can find out more about DROs on the gov.uk website

What is a competent authority?

Competent authorities are bodies designated by the Secretary of State to approve intermediaries.  Skilled debt advisers can apply to one of the competent authorities to become an approved intermediary. A competent authority has the power to approve or decline the applicant and to continue to assess their suitability as intermediaries. The IMA was designated as a competent authority in April 2009 and we currently have over 200 approved intermediaries.

If you wish to complain about an IMA approved DRO intermediary, please use this link .

How do I become a DRO Approved Intermediary?

Only IMA members can apply to the IMA to become a DRO intermediary

If you are an IMA member and wish to apply to become a DRO intermediary, click here to find out more about our application process and to make your application.

If you are a money adviser in Northern Ireland and you would like to apply to the IMA to become an approved DRO intermediary, please email competent.authority@i-m-a.org.uk.

Can the IMA help me to apply for a DRO?

Please note we are unable to give advice or refer you directly to a DRO intermediary.

You can visit gov.uk to find information on free debt advice agencies,

Once you have located free debt adviser, they will either be an approved intermediary themselves and will be able to complete a DRO application for you, or they will signpost you to other local agencies which can provide an approved intermediary to make an application for you.

Other than the £90 fee, you cannot be charged for being advised on or applying for a DRO.

Membership categories

Associate membership

Associate membership is open to individuals

  • who work in the money advice sector (applicants will normally have at least 12 months’ experience – those with less may wish to consider applying for trainee membership, see below)
  • whose function of employment (paid or unpaid) includes the delivery or promotion of free, confidential, independent and holistic money advice
  • who do not yet hold our Certificate in Money Advice Practice qualification
  • whose work conforms to and fully supports the definition of money advice as defined in our Statement of Good Practice
  • who work to or promote the standards and practices set out for members in the IMA’s Statement of Good Practice
  • who have the relevant FCA permissions (or who are exempt) and hold the appropriate professional indemnity insurance.

Associate members will normally be carrying out FCA-regulated activities, such as:

Debt Counselling
(1) giving advice to a borrower about the liquidation of a debt due under a credit agreement;
(2) giving advice to a hirer about the liquidation of a debt due under a consumer hire agreement.

or

Debt Adjusting – this activity comprises the following, in relation to debts due under a credit agreement or consumer hire agreement:
(1) negotiating with the lender or owner, on behalf of the borrower or hirer, terms for the discharge of a debt;
(2) taking over, in return for payments by the borrower or hirer, that person’s obligation to discharge a debt; or
(3) any similar activity concerned with the liquidation of a debt.

If you are not undertaking these activities, but are giving more general advice, primarily signposting or doing financial capability work, Affiliate membership is likely to be more suitable.

Accredited membership

Accredited membership is open to current IMA members who satisfy the requirements of Associate membership, but also:

  • have been awarded the IMA’s Certificate in Money Advice Practice,
  • have satisfied the requirements for the IMA’s continuing professional development scheme, and
  • continue to comply with the IMA’s Code of Conduct for Members and Affiliates.

Current Associate members are automatically awarded Accredited membership once they have successfully completed the Certificate in Money Advice Practice and, as such, non-members cannot apply for Accredited membership. This Accredited status can be rescinded where a member fails to comply with the requirements, as detailed above. Follow the links for more information about the IMA’s Certificate in Money Advice Practice and Continuing Professional Development scheme.

In order to be a member of this category you will need to have the relevant FCA permissions (or be exempt) and hold the appropriate professional indemnity insurance.

Affiliate Membership

Affiliate membership is open to any individual who has some involvement in money advice and financial work in its widest sense, and who does not qualify for Associate membership. Affiliate members may be giving more general advice, primarily signposting or doing financial capability work.

Individuals may be admitted to Affiliate membership if:

(i) In the course of their employment (paid or otherwise) they promote free, confidential, impartial money advice as defined within the IMA’s Statement of Good Practice and

(ii) they work to, or promote, the standards and practices set out for individual affiliation within the IMA’s Statement of Good Practice.

Example of job roles which would normally qualify an individual for Affiliate membership include:

  • Budget Support Worker
  • Tenancy Sustainment Officer
  • Welfare Benefits Adviser
  • Financial Inclusion Officer
  • Income Adviser
  • Housing Officer
  • Energy Adviser
  • Housing Support Tenancy Officer
  • Credit Union Membership Officer
  • Social Policy Officer
  • Benevolent Fund Officer
  • Managers not providing technical supervision
Trainee membership

Trainee membership is open to individuals who do not yet meet the requirements for Associate membership, but who can demonstrate that they have a genuine interest in, and are working towards, fulfilling the Associate membership criteria and working (paid or unpaid) in the free, not-for-profit advice sector. Applicants for trainee membership will normally have been working in money advice for less than 12 months.

Trainee members benefit from a 20% reduction from the cost of full Associate membership.

Non-Practising Membership

This is a category for members who previously qualified for either the Accredited or Associate membership categories, but who have either retired or now find themselves out of work. Non-Practising members benefit from a reduced annual membership fee. See here for details of IMA membership fees.

The purpose of this category is to support these advisers, to maintain their membership of the IMA and to provide a package of benefits to assist them in finding future work if desired.

To qualify, you must not be working for a fee-charging advice organisation or be a self-employed fee charging adviser. You must not be eligible for any other category of membership. The category is only open to previous Accredited and Associate members, not to new applicants.

Honorary Fellows

The Honorary Fellows category of membership is for those members who are recognised as having made a special contribution to the money advice sector and the Institute. Nominations are approved by the Board and the announcement of new Fellows is made annually at the AGM, which takes place at our annual conference.

Book IMA Training

How to book
  • Complete the booking above form and click submit.
  • We will check that you have entered the correct amount in the total fee box and an invoice will be issued.
  • Invoices will be posted to the address you have provided.
  • It is essential that you provide an email address, as all booking confirmations and joining instructions will be sent by email.
Fees

The following charges apply for all courses. All fees are VAT exempt.

IMA MemberNon-member
Voluntary/StatutoryNon-member
One-day course£110£180£200
Two-day course£184£269£299
Administration fee for cancellation/transfer£25£25£25

 

 

IMA contact details

Email: training@i-m-a.org.uk
Fax: 0113 234 5711
Post: First Floor, 4 Park Court, Park Cross Street, Leeds LS1 2QH
Tel: 0113 242 0048

Membership FAQ

Which membership category am I eligible for?

Full details of our membership categories can be found here. Experienced applicants currently giving money advice should normally apply for Associate membership. Applicants new to money advice may apply for trainee membership. Those not giving money advice but working in a related role should apply for Affiliate membership.

How do I apply for membership?

Applications for membership can be made online here. Your completed application will be reviewed by the IMA and an invoice will be sent for your membership fees. Your membership will commence when we receive payment of these fees.

How can I pay for my membership fees?

We will send an invoice for your fees to the address you specify. Payment can be made by cheque or via bank transfer – full details on how to make a payment will be on the invoice. We do not accept credit or debit card payments.

What VAT is charged on membership fees?

For VAT purposes, the gross amount of the fee is divided into three equal parts. One part is VAT exempt, one part is zero-rated, and one part is inclusive of VAT at the current rate.

How do I renew my membership?

Around six weeks before your membership is due for renewal we will email you asking you to complete an online renewal form. Once you have completed this we will send you an invoice for your membership fees.

I did not receive my copy of Quarterly Account. How can I request a replacement?

Please email us at membership@i-m-a.org.uk or call us on 0113 242 0048 to request a replacement.

How do I become a DRO Approved Intermediary?

Associate and Accredited members can apply to the IMA to become a DRO Approved Intermediary. The application process consists of a paper form which needs to be signed by the applicant and their manager. We will also request proof of ID and address, and will need details of your FCA permissions and professional indemnity insurance. For applicants who have not completed the Certificate in Money Advice Practice, we will also request and review a case file. See here for more details.

Is there a charge for applying to become a DRO Approved Intermediary?

There is no charge for applying to become a DRO Approved Intermediary.

What happens if I change job part way through my membership period?

If you change job part way through your membership period please complete our online change of circumstances form which can be found here. We will then assess whether you remain eligible for the same category of membership.

How can I tell the IMA about a change of details / circumstances?

If you have changed your name, or contact details such as telephone number, postal or email address, please email us at membership@i-m-a.org.uk or call us on 0113 242 0048.

If you have changed or left your employer, or have a new role with the same employer, please complete our online change of circumstances form which can be found here.

How can I reset my Members’ Zone login details?

Unless you have reset it, your username will be your membership number (e.g. 1234), or the first part of your membership number if you have an old-style membership number ending in letters (e.g. L1234). Your password should be your date of birth in the format DDMMYYY.

If you have tried these details but cannot access the Members’ Zone, please email us at membership@i-m-a.org.uk or call us on 0113 242 0048 to reset your details.

I am leaving my organisation. Can I transfer my membership to a colleague?

No, IMA membership is personal and individual and cannot be transferred to another person.

Do I need FCA authorisation to be a member?

Associate and Accredited members should be covered by the appropriate FCA permissions unless their employer is exempt. If a Trainee member is giving advice they will also need to be covered by the appropriate permissions.

We do not require Non-Practising and Affiliate members to be covered by FCA permissions as they will not be giving advice.

For more information about FCA regulation and the required permissions click here.

How do I cancel my membership?

If your membership is due for renewal and you do not wish to renew, please let us know us at membership@i-m-a.org.uk, or call us on 0113 242 0048.

Otherwise, you may cancel your membership at any time by notifying us via email to membership@i-m-a.org.uk, marked “FAO IMA Company Secretary”. Please note that we cannot refund all or part of your membership fees if you cancel your membership part way through your membership period.

MAS Assessments

Where do I take the test?

It’s an online test. After the training session, we will email you a link to the test. You complete the questions online by selecting the correct answers.

You would normally take it on a computer at your workplace, but you could equally take it at home provided you have your passcode (see below) and course materials with you.

You can have your notes with you, but you must not discuss or share the questions or answers, or seek help from anyone else.

You can use any PC but you’ll need to be connected to the internet all the way through. You can use any adaptations to your computer that you normally need, such as screen readers or joysticks.

Who is the assessment contact?

We issue a personal passcode that you need to enter when you take the test. We send it to someone who knows you and who can vouch for your identity. This is how we prevent anyone cheating or using up your test attempt.

You tell us to whom you would like the passcode sent. It is usually your line manager or training manager, but if that is difficult we can send it to anyone who knows you personally and meets the following criteria:

1 They need to have a private email address which is not shared with other people.

2 They need to be one of the following:

  • director/manager of a VAT-registered charity, for example your manager at a CAB or a CAB trustee
  • councillor or local government officer, for example your manager at a local authority
  • director/manager/personnel officer of a VAT-registered company, for example your manager or HR staff at a debt management company
  • manager/personnel officer of a limited company
  • solicitor or barrister

Make sure they will be available to give you your passcode when you plan to take the test.

When do I take the test?

A link to access the test is sent out after the training session. The test is available for 1 month and you can log on and attempt it at any time within that month.

You have to finish the test in one sitting (you cannot log back in later), but you can take as long as you want to complete your sitting.

We recommend you take the test during our opening hours (weekdays, 9am-5pm) in case you need to report a problem.

Make sure you take the test at a time when your assessment contact is available to give you your passcode.

You might want to choose a time when the surroundings are quieter.

What if I don’t take the test?

If you don’t take the test and pass it, your training will not be MAS accredited and will not count towards MAS quality audits for your organisation.

You do not have to sit the test if you do not need MAS accredited training, but if you change your mind later you will have lost one of your attempts.

What if the test doesn’t work?

Before the test, we’ll send you a link to some practice questions, so that you can check the system works on your computer and get used to the style of questions and instructions. There are no results from the practice questions- they are just for you to identify any computer problems in advance.

If there’s an unexpected technical problem during the test, show your assessment contact so they can confirm the issue to us. Then call the IMA. We can’t resolve your technical issues but we may be able to give you a second chance at the test.

Is my test marked by a computer?

Your test will be marked and checked by IMA staff.

What kind of results will I get?

You will be issued with a pass or fail result. If we can without giving away the answers, we’ll also send you feedback on which sections you need to go back and work on.

Results are not instant. The tests will all be marked together after the 1-month test window for the whole group closes.

Please note: for most levels of the MAS quality framework, there is more than one training course required. You will have to pass the tests for all the required courses before your training counts as accredited for that level.

If you:

  • did not sign in at the training session
  • did not enter your test passcode into the test
  • are accused of malpractice
  • did not provide acceptable evidence of pre requisites

You will not receive a test result and the training will not be MAS accredited.

What if I fail?

If you fail a test, you can re-sit once.

However, this is likely to be when the next group takes the test, which could be several months on.  If you need a re-sit more urgently, contact the office and we may be able to arrange one earlier.

If you don’t sit the test after the training, this counts as failing your first attempt, so you will only have one further chance if you change your mind later.

Can I take the test without going on the training?

Unfortunately, it is not currently possible to take a test without attending the training, even if you’ve been on similar training before. We have to make sure you’ve been taught everything on the new framework, which may not have been included in previous courses.

CPD

CPD activity query form
Extended absence request form

CPD forms

CPD activity query form
Extended absence request form

Useful websites

Business debts
Caselaw

British and Irish Legal Information Institute

http://www.bailii.org/

Council Tax
Financial Conduct Authority
Information Commissioner

Principles for the reporting of debt by Credit reference Agencies

http://www.scoronline.co.uk/sites/default/files/high_level_prinicples_document_final.pdf

Pro Bono Help
Water

Consumer Council for Water

https://www.ccwater.org.uk/