The content of the consultation suggests that R&D advisors will soon need to evidence that they have the necessary knowledge and competences to provide clients with this specialist form of advice.

The problem is that, up until now, there hasn’t been a qualification for R&D advisors to quickly get their teams to a consistent level of knowledge.

But happily, this is about to change. The very first cohort of our R&D advisor Foundation Certification programme will kick off in early September. Keep reading to find out key details and how to join the waiting list.

Here’s a quick update on what’s going on behind the scenes to make this happen!

New courses in development

The Foundation Certification programme is designed for people working in and around R&D tax relief, from technical staff working on claims to sales, marketing, BD, and finance staff who also have to demonstrate a sound understanding of R&D tax relief.

The Foundation Certification is based on six courses that span the most essential knowledge for anyone working in R&D tax relief:

The last of these courses, which focuses on the accountancy principles, was launched at the end of June. Several of our other courses will also be getting updates in July, with our first students enrolling in August for a start date of Tuesday, 3 September.

What can you expect from the Certification process?

The Certification process has been designed to be challenging enough to be meaningful, while still achievable by busy people with a full-on day job.

We’ve deliberately chosen the cohort model so that you’re not working through things on your own. Students will not only have support from us, but also from each other.

Our expectation is that any student who puts in 2-3 hours of study per week, who asks plenty of questions, and who attends our support webinars will have a very good chance of passing the Certification assessment.

How does Certification help R&D advisors?

Over the past couple of months, we’ve been speaking to R&D advisors of all stripes about what they want from Certification. Here are some of the things that seemed to crop up time and time again.

  1. Knowledge

There’s no getting away from it; the R&D tax relief schemes are complex, but there’s been little specialised training available for people working in this area. We received feedback that people were looking for a structured training process to validate and augment their existing knowledge.

  1. Differentiation

Many advisors were keen to have an objective way of demonstrating their expertise. Being assessed and signed-off by an independent body allows advisors to show potential customers that they take their CPD requirements seriously and that they have attained a defined level of competence.

  1. The need for systems

Many organisations have some very knowledgeable and experienced people working for them. The problem is that their time is expensive, and it can be hard for them to regularly carve out enough time to give feedback to more junior staff. This means that new starts often have to learn on the job, which can lead to quality and consistency issues down the line. The larger the company, the more acute this problem seems to be. Certification allows larger organisations  to ensure that its R&D staff are at a consistent level of knowledge without distracting senior staff from their fee-generation responsibilities.

  1. Attracting and retaining staff

Finally, more than a few advisors remarked that Certification would allow them to offer new learning and development opportunities to their staff. They felt that offering Certification would make it easier to hire new people, encourage them to stay for longer, and get them up to speed faster – all of which helps the organisation financially.

How does Certification fit into the larger picture?

We see advisor certification programmes as vital to the future of R&D tax relief. HMRC is clearly moving towards the regulation of tax advisors, which will put the onus on people to evidence that they are qualified to give advice. By getting certified, advisors can show potential clients (and HMRC) that they are investing in themselves and their teams, and that they have been independently assessed. This will help develop a more level playing field between advisors and help responsible advisors to stand out even more.

If you’re interested in our R&D Certifications, you can find out all the details and join the waiting list.