Under the bonnet

Sunday, 01 September 2013
An update on the inner workings of the education programme, from STEP’s training partner, CLTI.

We have experienced another interesting year in the world of the Certificate and Diploma in International Trust Management, a programme we have delivered in 50 different jurisdictions over the past year. The task of delivering high-level, certificated programmes to the same (STEP, gold) standard across such a wide geographic range is challenging, but it is pleasing to see more individuals being able to access the programme and make their way towards STEP membership. In addition to those jurisdictions in which the STEP Diploma seems to be embedded in the culture of trust training and the additions that we saw last year, places such as Austria, Brazil, Curacao, Estonia, Luxembourg, Nevada (Las Vegas, inevitably), Nigeria, Ontario, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain, Uruguay and Zambia have joined the party – a true A-to-Z selection. Many (but not all) of these new ventures have been facilitated through the DL+ mechanism (the online version of the course), which is designed to meet the needs of very small groups (or single individuals) who wish to take the Certificate or Diploma.

Industry investment in training is driven by several factors (and these factors differ depending on the place), but what remains consistent is that when times are hard the training budget is usually in the firing line. The STEP education programmes continue to hold up remarkably well in the circumstances, but they are not recession-proof and it is clear that training budgets are under pressure. Our experience, from a global perspective, is that training requirements are ‘following the money’ (to borrow from All The President’s Men), and there is a perceptible shift from West to East, though given the globalised nature of the industry, this is a very broad-brush comment.

The STEP Diploma in Trusts and Estates (England and Wales) still flourishes despite the economic situation and the restructurings of the legal industry. In fact, we are seeing solicitors moving from other areas of legal practice into the private client world, perhaps as a safe haven. The UK scene was enhanced with the launch of the STEP Diploma in Trusts and Estates (Scotland) about five years ago, and last year we introduced the STEP Diploma in Trusts and Estates (Northern Ireland).

The Certificate series of programmes has expanded and we have been particularly pleased with the response to our new Foundations course, which has had more than 60 enrolments. Other notable additions include the International Succession and Probate course, which, like the Foundations course, can be accessed online and therefore studied anywhere (subject to the availability of an internet connection); the UK Tax for International Clients course (equally portable) and the Mediation programme. Well-established programmes, such as the Advanced Certificate in Will Preparation and the Certificate for Financial Services (Trusts and Estate Planning) and its Singapore variant continue to attract enthusiastic participation.

The above is merely a sample of what we are doing; we offer more and there is certainly more to come. Needless to say, none of this happens without a huge amount of effort and participation of committed individuals. For some it is their day job, but there are many others who give generously of their own time, enthusiasm and goodwill, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all concerned.

STEP qualification snapshots

Canada Diploma

The STEP Canada education programme continues to flourish. We currently have 337 members in our student community: 71 Qualified Practitioner and 266 Diploma. New student members represented 70 per cent of the membership growth in the 2012–13 fiscal year. In 2012, 23 students upgraded to full membership. We are also pleased to see the Diploma programme reaching into northern Canada, with students enrolled from the Yukon Territories.

Moving forward, we are looking to move our exams and course materials to an electronic platform.

We would like to extend our thanks to Christine Van Cauwenberghe, who, after seven years on the Education Committee, with two years serving as Chair, is moving to a new role in STEP Canada. We welcome Peter Weissman as the new Chair of the Education Committee.

Lisa Lue is Education Co-ordinator at STEP Canada

England and Wales

The STEP Certificate and Diploma in Trusts and Estates (England and Wales), accredited and quality-assured through Manchester Business School, continues to embed itself as the must-have qualification for specialist private client professionals. Interestingly, this is almost always a second qualification, whereas the International Diploma is often a first professional qualification. Numbers for the November 2013 sitting, which closed for enrolment on 5 July 2013, exceed those for November 2012 (422 for November 2013 compared with 381 this time last year), which is very encouraging.

Israel

STEP Israel continues to operate the STEP Diploma ITM (Israel), and has 13 students enrolled for the July 2013 workshop.

Nigel Race is Director of Professional Development at STEP

Northern Ireland

The bespoke STEP Diploma for Northern Ireland was launched two years ago. Northern Ireland is a relatively small jurisdiction in terms of enrolments on the STEP programme, so two of the four papers are offered at each sitting, with 15-20 delegates enrolled across the two papers each time. This year will see the first graduates of the Diploma in Northern Ireland.

Rachel Bliss is Programme Developer at CLTI

Republic of Ireland

STEP Ireland, in conjunction with the Law Society, runs a Certificate course, which is scheduled to commence in September 2013. The course will finish before the beginning of the Diploma course, which is scheduled to start in November 2013.

Scotland

The popularity of the STEP Diploma for Scotland remains consistent. Each sitting (there are two annually) sees 15 or so new delegates begin the programme, with a similar number graduating and becoming eligible for full membership at each sitting. At any one time there are at least 60 student members working their way through one of the papers. On another note, Ian Stubbs, our excellent Trust and Executry Accounting Tutor, is retiring at the end of this year. Many thanks to Ian from both CLTI and STEP for the valued contribution he has made to the Accounting paper since it was launched in the summer of 2009.

Lucy Walsh is Senior Programme Manager at CLTI

STEP Certificate for Financial Services – Singapore (Trusts and Estate Planning)

The Certificate for Financial Services is an adaptation of STEP’s UK qualification, and a collaboration between STEP, CLTI and Rockwills Institute Pte Ltd. It was launched in February 2012. The programme has had two intakes of face-to-face classes, totalling 58 students, with lectures delivered by local expert practitioners. This is a unique programme aimed at equipping financial services professionals (financial advisory, insurance, banking and other professionals) with the ability to develop their knowledge and assist their clients in estate planning, in addition to the wealth-management services they already provide.

Lee Chiwi is CEO of Rockwills Trustee Ltd

Switzerland

The education programmes in Switzerland continue to attract good attendance at all levels of knowledge and expertise, with the core STEP qualification being the Diploma in International Trust Management. The Swiss Advanced Certificate in Trust Management (a joint venture with the Geneva Financial Centre, a non-profit organisation providing training to the financial services industry) is now in its seventh year and also attracting good attendance.

STEP Qualified Practitioner update

STEP Qualified Practitioner is the entry route to STEP membership for trust and estate practitioners who have established themselves in their field. Applicants are required to research and write three papers of approximately 5,000 words to be eligible for full membership.

The entry requirement for applicants to this route has been raised from a minimum of two years’ post-qualification experience to a minimum of five years. This reflects STEP’s continuing commitment to ensuring the high standard of its membership.

This change came into effect in April 2013 and applies worldwide, with the exception of Canada. Full details of this route to membership can be found at on our Qualified Practitioner page

Deadlines for registration and submissions

October submission 2013

Submission: 1 October 2013
Results: January 2014

July submission 2014

Topics available: January 2014
Registration: 3 March 2014
Submission: 1 July 2014
Results: 30 October 2014

October submission 2014

Topics available: January 2014
Registration: 6 June 2014
Submission: 1 October 2014
Results: January 2015

Author block
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Rob Rowe

Rob Rowe is Director at CLTI.

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