Background : Paul, a certified human resource (HR) professional, has been a manager for the past five years with a small private firm in Moncton, New...
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Background : Preparation Exam for Accreditation (PEA):

Paul, a certified human resource (HR) professional, has been a manager for the past five years with a small private firm in Moncton, New Brunswick. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a specialization in HR and a minor in economics. Over the years, Paul has regularly taken graduate-level courses in management, economics and finance at Cardinal University as part of his long-term professional development plan. For personal and family reasons, Paul recently decided to relocate his family to the Prairies. He immediately observed that there were many lucrative employment opportunities in the field of financial management. With a keen interest in finance, he decided to embrace a new career path and began to prepare for designation as an accredited financial advisor (AFA). Despite his strong academic background and business experience, he was informed that he needed to pass two mandatory modules in order to receive the AFA designation in Alberta. The required modules were: (1) Ethics and Responsibilities in Finance; and (2) Canadian Taxation Law. Paul began to prepare for the upcoming examinations at Competencies Institute, a private firm specializing in corporate training for the finance industry owned by David. David was a regional director at Ernest and Young Consulting for over 25 years and is originally from Long Island, New York. He immigrated to Canada in 2002 and started his own private corporate training firm in Calgary.

Competencies Institute offers a variety of custom-designed training courses to prepare clients to pass various qualification examinations in the finance industry. At the institute, PEA courses for designated programs are specifically structured to guide participants through the content material, with a particular focus on effective exam-writing strategies and techniques. Competencies Institute uses an internal database of developed course material, including sample case studies, a bank of multiple-choice questions with detailed answers and mock practice exams. Additionally, a team of experienced instructors are assigned to meet the needs of individual clients.

Competencies Institute reports a high success rate with clients who take finance-related preparation courses. PEA courses are 45 hours each, with standard fees of $1,895. Courses are custom-designed on a flexible schedule, including weekends, with a private corporate training instructor. Paul registered for the two courses required to be eligible for the AFA accreditation. During his sessions, the instructors focused on several strategies and techniques, specifically on how to recognize important details and disregard irrelevant information when analyzing financial case studies. The courses included various simulated exams on the subjects covered.

Accreditation Exam :

Soon after Paul completed the two PEA courses at Competencies Institute, he registered with the local AFA Association to take the designation exam. During the examination, Paul noted that most of the questions were a quasi carbon copy of those in the material provided by David at Competencies Institute. Results of his exams were provided upon completion and he scored 95% on the Canadian Taxation Law exam and 98% on the Ethics and Responsibilities in Finance exam. Paul was now eligible for the AFA designation in Alberta and could begin to search for his ideal position in finance management.

Paul's Dilemma :

Paul felt uneasy about the results of his accreditation exams, due to the fact that it is well known that the average score normally achieved by candidates in such exams is between 74 and 82%. For inexplicable reasons, he felt uncomfortable with the situation and scheduled a meeting to discuss his results with David at Competencies Institute. Paul also wanted to inform him about the similarities of the questions on the designation exams and his uneasiness about the fact that the case studies on his actual exam were identical to the ones he worked on with his instructor.

The Meeting:

At the meeting, David informed Paul that his previous educational background and corporate experience was in the U.S. and that, before moving to Canada, he was not familiar with the Canadian designation examinations at all. To the best of his knowledge, his Canadian associates had never worked for professional financial associations or taken any designation exams with the latter. They discussed the teaching material and David explained to Paul that the simulation exams that they use at his institute were for the most part purchased at either the local bookstores, ordered online or developed by his training instructors at their downtown office. David wished Paul the best of luck with his new career path and encouraged him to visit them again if he or any of his colleagues required corporate training in the future.

Questions:

1. Is Competencies Institute guilty of any wrongdoing? Justify your answer.

2. What should Paul does about the situation?

Answered by Expert Tutors

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