The Institute of Directors has launched a new qualification, the Chartered Director, aimed at raising boardroom standards and building a greater level of professionalism amongst corporate custodians. Directors who attain the qualification will be entitled to place the letters “C.Dir” after their name. “This is aimed at helping to raise standards amongst individuals,” said IoD director general Tim Melville-Ross. “We hope to get to a position where if someone is being considered for the board and isn’t a chartered director, that will raise eyebrows.” Gaining the new qualification will be no walkover, however. The criteria include: – a degree or membership of a professional institute – being a practising director with a minimum of three years on a board within the past five years – passing the IoD’s examination in company direction – subscription to the Code of Professional Conduct, which includes a requirement to undertake a minimum of 30 hours of continuing professional development courses each year. Perhaps most surprising is the age requirement: only those aged 28 and above can embark on the course, which lead some observers to question whether it would exclude young entrepreneurs in fast growing industries. Membership of the IoD is also a pre-requisite, and the IoD runs the courses leading towards the examination in company direction. Prices for these range from £310 for basic seminars on improving business performance to £4,873.50 for the complete series of courses leading to the Diploma in Company Direction. While the C.Dir qualification seems designed to bolster a more general trend on corporate governance and management ethics, the IoD seems unsure in which direction to push it. “It’s difficult at this stage to say who will be interested,” said Tony Newton, former Tory minister and supporter of the initiative. Directors of small and medium sized businesses “anxious to build professionalism” are the most likely applicants, he continued. Melville-Ross also claimed that “venture capitalists have shown interest” in the qualification as a means of reducing perceived risk in investments; but he also admitted that other sources of capital were not yet aware of the move, nor had they demanded it.