The Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) was established in 2017 to establish a framework for the education, training and ethical standards of licensed financial advisers.
Below, we summarise the further progress that has been made to define these standards which will ultimately be passed through Parliament.
The new education standards were registered on 24 December 2018, listing the qualifications to meet the minimum requirements for new and existing financial service advisers.1
This means you can now start planning out your pathway to meet the new standards and identify where the gaps may be.
If you’re in a position of needing to complete a Graduate Diploma of Financial Planning (the longest pathway for existing advisers), you may be able to start now.
It doesn’t end here though.
FASEA has advised that professional associations can apply to have relevant course work recognised as credits in meeting the requirements.
While this is good news, it’s important to note that so far there have been no credits awarded nor has there been any courses approved for bridging such as those related to the new proposed Code of Ethics.
Continuing professional development
The final legislative instrument for the continuing professional development (CPD) standard was registered on 21 December 2018. While this standard applies from 1 January 2019, there is a transitional approach for some elements to 31 March 2019.2
Under this standard, all financial service advisers will now be required to complete a minimum of 40 hours of approved CPD each CPD year, with the following minimum requirements in each area:
- Technical competence (5 hours)
- Client care and practice (5 hours)
- Regulatory compliance and consumer protection (5 hours)
- Professionalism and ethics (9 hours).
Determining your timeframe
Determining your timeframe to meet the thresholds of this Standard, is important.
Your CPD year is determined by your licensee and may not align to a calendar year. If it doesn’t, you’ll have a transitional approach to complete it, starting from 1 January 2019 to the end of your first CPD year that occurs after that date.
For example, if your CPD year operates on a financial year basis, you’ll have a requirement to achieve a minimum of 60 hours between 1 January 2019 and 30 June 2020.
Making a plan
As an adviser, it is your responsibility to ensure you have a CPD plan in place by 31 March 2019 that demonstrates where your CPD activities will be undertaken. It is likely that your licensee will assist in developing this plan.2
Under the standard, 70 per cent of your activities must be approved by your licensee.3
Financial adviser exam
The legislation for the exam is yet to be finalised and registered.1
As is it the first milestone that many financial service advisers will need to complete, it is however, important to consider how you start preparing for the exam to give yourself the best possible chance of passing.
So, here’s some requirements we already know:
- It is expected to be available from mid-2019 (which existing advisers must successfully complete by 1 January 2021)
- The exam must be completed in digital format at an assessment centre
- The exam will last three hours (plus 30 minutes reading time), and contain a mix of multiple choice (at least 64) and short answer (at least 6) questions
- Assessed at a credit level, this may mean a score of 65% is required to pass
- There will be an exam fee of $540 (excluding GST)
- There no longer appears to be a maximum number of attempts allowed to sit the exam, but a minimum of three months must elapse between sittings.
The exam will assess the following three areas:
- Financial advice regulatory and legal obligations, which will include Chapter 7 of the Corporations Act, anti-money laundering, privacy and tax practitioner board requirements
- Applied ethical and professional reasoning and communication, which will include the requirements of the proposed FASEA Code of Ethics
- Financial advice construction, which includes the suitability of advice aligned to different consumer groups.
FASEA Code of Ethics
The FASEA Code of Ethics (Code) is still to be finalised and registered. Once it is registered, financial service advisers’ compliance with the Code will be monitored from 1 January 2020.4
Even though it has not been finalised, there is the option to start familiarising yourself with the Code’s contents, as this is unlikely to change significantly.
1 Australian Government Federal Register of Legislation: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2018L01833
2 FPS004, Continuing Professional Development Policy (Refer page 7, “Individuals (Relevant providers)” Point 2)
3 FPS004, Continuing Professional Development Policy (Refer page 5, “Individuals (Relevant providers)” Point 2)
4 FASEA Standard Authority: https://www.fasea.gov.au/consultations/code-of-ethics-legislative-instrument/
This publication is current as at 18 January 2019, and has been prepared by Bryan Ashenden Head of Financial Literacy and Advocacy at BT Financial Group (BTFG), a division of Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL & Australian Credit Licence 233714 (Westpac). This document has been prepared for the information of financial advisers only and must not be copied, used, reproduced or otherwise distributed or made available to any retail client or third party, or attributed to BTFG or any other company in the Westpac Group.
The information contained in this publication is an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter nor relied upon as such. The publication does not contain, and should not to be taken to contain, any financial product advice and it has been prepared without taking into account any person’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this, you should, before acting on any information contained in this publication, consider its appropriateness to your clients, having regard to their objectives, financial situation or needs. This document may contain material provided by third parties derived from sources believed to be accurate at its issue date. While such material is published with necessary permission, no company in the Westpac Group accepts any responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of, or endorses any such material. Except where contrary to law, we intend by this notice to exclude liability for this material. To the maximum extent permitted by law: (a) no guarantee, representation or warranty is given that any information or advice in this publication is complete, accurate, up to date or fit for any purpose; and (b) no member of the Westpac Group is in any way liable to you (including for negligence) in respect of any reliance upon such information.