The initiative will include the introduction of a new professional qualification in debt advice for advisers working in DEMSA member firms.
The qualification will have its first intake of students in November 2011 and will be studied over 16 weeks covering key areas of debt advice including budgeting, income maximisation, priority debts, insolvency, managing caseloads, and relevant legislation such as the Consumer Credit Act.
It will be accredited by Staffordshire University and will provide an independent and rigorous assessment of the knowledge and skills of individual advisers in the DEMSA member firms.
The IMA launched a similar professional qualification for advisers in the free advice sector in 2010 and has so far seen almost 300 advisers achieve this qualification.
The DEMSA and IMA partnership will also include continuous professional development for individual advisers requiring them to undertake ongoing training and development.
David Blocksidge, head of the debt management team, consumer credit group at the OFT, said: "We are highly supportive of the proposal for the IMA to work with DEMSA to improve standards in the fee charging debt management sector. DEMSA has an OFT approved Code of Practice which its members abide by and we welcome DEMSA's approach to seek to improve the training and competences of the staff working for its members."
Steve Meakin, chair of the IMA, added: "The agreement with DEMSA represents a significant step in continuing to improve standards of advice in the fee charging sector. I believe that our work with DEMSA in introducing a new qualification and CPD scheme will mirror what has already been achieved in the free advice sector."