Exam concessions for VCs

The British Venture Capital Association (BVCA) has announced a change in the exam requirements for venture capitalists. VCs who are either an associate or fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants will no longer need to take any additional exams to satisfy Financial Services Authority requirements.

Following the implementation of the new Financial Services and Markets Act in December 2001 all UK venture capital firms are now regulated by the FSA. The FSA had proposed to put in place a new exam structure when the act came into effect that would have required more VCs to take exams than before. However, in November the BVCA announced that following discussions with the FSA, it had been agreed that a partial exemption for those holding a “relevant professional qualification” would be included. These may include MBAs or other qualifications relevant to the role of a VC. For those who qualify for an exemption only one regulatory examination will be required.

The news that chartered accountants will not be required to pass any additional exams to meet FSA requirements is further progress towards clarifying the qualification regime, which is currently undergoing a full review. In a statement Alison Wilsher, the BVCA’s first head of training and professional development, appointed last year, said: “It should also be noted that these changes have been made specifically for those in our industry and… are a significant step forward for all of us.”

Investment executives who were authorised under the old regime should have been “grandfathered” through to the new regime, meaning they will not have to take any new exams to retain their previous status. However, anyone new seeking authorisation as a venture capitalist, who is not already a chartered accountant and who does not have relevant professional qualifications, will face a series of FSA approved exams.

Wilsher says many VCs will benefit from the changes to the exam regime. She admits there is still a lot of confusion about the qualification requirements in general, which is one of the reasons why the FSA has instigated a full review of examinations. The BVCA is supporting the FSA in this review. The BVCA is also looking to develop an industry specific exam by the end of the year that will be tailored to the regulatory requirements of the venture capital industry and will be an alternative to some of the current exams.