The Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority has issued an update to its guidance of adviser education standards and code of ethics, as well as commencing its public consultation.
In a statement on its website, FASEA released new guidance which indicated all ‘relevant providers’ of financial advice will be required to complete at least one unit of study in order to keep practicing, where ‘relevant provider’ refers to anyone on the ASIC financial adviser register.
According to the new guidance, advisers with a bachelor’s degree in a ‘related field’ (accounting, financial planning, business, commerce, economics or law) will be required to complete a three-unit bridging course to meet the new standard.
Advisers who have completed post-graduate studies in a related field will only need to complete a single unit on the FASEA code of ethics (which is currently in draft form and open for consultation).
Relevant providers who do not hold a degree in a related field will need to complete an approved bachelor’s degree.
Speaking at the ASIC Annual Forum in Sydney hours after the new guidance was released, FASEA chief executive Deen Sanders said it was important to note that “financial advice is much bigger than financial planning” and that the standards will equally apply to stockbrokers as well as risk advisers and accountants who deal in personal advice.
“It’s hard to make an argument - but we welcome it in consultation - as to why [the bridging course] units would not be relevant to any participant in the financial services marketplace,” Mr Sanders said.
Adviser industry association AFA issued a response to the updated guidance, saying it welcomed the additional clarity it offered to the marketplace but highlighting that a number of areas of concern remained.
“One of the most common pieces of feedback that we have received is that advisers who are specialists, do not see the relevance in undertaking units of study and assessments in areas that are not their specialisation and they do not give advice on," AFA chief executive Philip Kewin said.
Mr Kewin added that “the role of the AFA is to advocate for the most sensible options for our members” and that it will push for a number of changes, including alternatives for older advisers and existing advisers without relevant degrees, specialist courses, and cost-effective solutions.
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