‘We don’t want to repeat the FASEA model’: What education standards consultation must address
The government’s adviser education standards consultation paper is open for feedback now.
A number of industry groups have laid out recommendations for the government’s consultation on the adviser education standards which opened last week.
Originally announced earlier this month, Financial Services Minister Stephen Jones said the government would look at options to “streamline the education requirements for financial advisers” and addressed the 30 September deadline for existing advisers to pass the exam and continue to provide financial advice, saying that following the deadline, he will ask Treasury to explore how the exam can be improved, such as reducing the number of questions.
Speaking to SMSF Adviser’s sister brand, ifa, the Stockbrokers and Investment Advisers Association CEO Judith Fox welcomed the move, saying the experience pathway will ensure the industry can retain experienced financial advisers.
However, Ms Fox noted some concerns.
“There are degrees of ambiguity in the paper that Treasury has issued, such as the fact that it proposes that the window for 10 years’ experience is between 2004 and 2019, which means that advisers’ work in the last three and a half years is no longer counted as experience,” Ms Fox told ifa.
“The paper proposes that in 2022, you can only count six and a half years of your experience out of the last 10.”
Ms Fox continued: “The paper makes it clear that the minister’s intent is to make a broader range of degrees eligible as entry pathways. In the stockbroking and investment advice profession, the degrees that are sought are those in commerce or finance or economics – these are best suited to working in equity capital markets, given the subjects they cover.
“New entrants to our profession therefore come highly qualified, but if there is a gap of a couple of core knowledge areas, we don’t want to repeat the FASEA model of making new entrants study a second unrelated degree to cover one or two subjects.
“We now have across-the-industry recognition that the one-size-fits-all model that FASEA put in place did not work. The consultation will allow us to assess how to ensure that education pathways are appropriate to different professions within the financial advice ecosystem, while embedding core knowledge areas.”
The Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) also highlighted concerns about the 10-year experience proposal, with CEO Phil Anderson arguing that being assessed over a 15-year period is “a better outcome” for those who have had career breaks.
“We will also be paying close attention to the requirement for a clean record, to ensure that this does not disqualify people who have been the subject of a more minor disciplinary matter,” Mr Anderson told ifa.
“We recognise that there will be many who will be pleased with this proposal, however there will also be many who are not, either because they are no longer eligible or because they believe it is too generous.
"The AFA believes that it is paramount that financial advice be recognised as a profession, which would normally necessitate the achievement of a tertiary qualification. We anticipate that this proposal will generate some vigorous debate.”
Meanwhile, The Advisers Association (TAA) has said it will advocate that advisers with decades of experience should be able to remain in the industry for an “extended period of time”.
In its submission, TAA will call for an extension for advisers with 15 years’ experience (as of 31 December 2021) and that advisers at AQF7 level should require a competency assessment and a sunset clause for those planners to either have the relevant qualifications by 30 June 2030 or 2035 or exit the profession.
“What we need to recognise is that a lot of advisers just got on with it,” TAA CEO Neil Macdonald said.
“They undertook the study required, often at great personal and professional expense. To have an open-ended extension for those who did not go the hard yards is not fair on those who did.”
Submissions are open now and close on 16 September 2022.