Advisers hit with ASIC late fees over FASEA exam
An industry compliance consultant has called for the government to intervene after it found advisers were being charged late fees for failing to inform ASIC of their FASEA exam results promptly amid major hikes in the ASIC levy.
In a letter to Financial Services and Superannuation Minister Jane Hume published on LinkedIn, Smart Compliance founder Brett Walker said he had been made aware of a licensee client charged almost $700 in late fees from ASIC for late reporting of two advisers’ exam results.
“Dear Minister, I work with AFS[L]s across the country. I am just off the phone with one who is faced with two late fee payments totaling $680 because he is late advising ASIC that he and his colleague passed the FASEA exam,” Mr Walker wrote.
“Across the country, there are likely hundreds faced with similar shocks. This comes on top of significant ASIC levy increases and advisers having to pay thousands of dollars to sit the exam in the first place. How much more blood can be drawn from a stone, Minister?”
As stated by ASIC on its website, the regulator charges a range of fees to licensees to add or update details of their authorised representatives, but the option to add the pass date of advisers’ FASEA exam, along with a number of other FASEA-related details, is listed as free.
In his letter, Mr Walker said that a better process would be to transfer responsibility for adviser exam information to FASEA which removes the obligation for individual advisers to notify ASIC of their results.
“The exam results are published by FASEA to the adviser. Why can’t FASEA simply transmit that information (e.g. via API — we’re supposed to be embracing technology after all) to ASIC so that adviser records are automatically updated without the need for adviser involvement?” Mr Walker said.
“Why must advisers (i) study for, (ii) sit, (iii) (hopefully) pass then (iv) have to tell ASIC and (v) pay a fee for the privilege? And cop a late fee if they forget to log into the incredibly clunky ASIC Connect system and do FASEA and ASIC’s work for them?
“No wonder advisers are suffering mental health consequences. No wonder they are leaving the industry in droves.”
In a previous post, Mr Walker also questioned the FPA, AFA and AIOFP if there was a possibility to lobby ASIC to relax its rule about FASEA exam notifications.
“SMEs who’ve just been hit with massive levy increases are also facing late fees for notifications that don’t actually matter before 1/1/2022,” he said.
In response to a comment, FPA head of policy, strategy and innovation Benjamin Marshan said that this was part of the many issues with ASIC’s current fee model and is why the industry body is driving the push for an immediate review.