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Designations are not qualifications: FASEA

A besuited man stands at a crossroads.

Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) chief executive Deen Sanders has made it explicitly clear financial adviser designations and experience do not equate to qualifications under the new education and professional standards framework for advisers.

Speaking at the SMSF Association National Conference 2018 in Sydney today, Sanders acknowledged concerns among advisers around whether their designations and experience would count towards them meeting the education standards requirements, adding they could count as credit points towards that endeavour.

“The reality of the law is a little more blunt than that. As we’ve indicated there is an exercise in raising standards. There is an exercise in being qualified. The question of how you get there is quite different,” he said.

“It’s entirely possible, entirely reasonable that people may only end up needing to do a very limited amount of study.”

He emphasised the value of attaining designations and experience in the industry, noting all knowledge was valuable and would be valued, but he repeated that would not automatically equate to a qualification.

“A designation is not a qualification. It is a recognition of professional commitment. It’s a recognition of particular education relevant to your particular practice. It’s not the same thing as a qualification,” he said.

“[The law] makes it unfortunately very clear. We need to apply the law in a very specific way to meet community expectations. The law is not about just your expectations, but about the Australian government’s promise to the Australian consumers, that they should be able to rely on those individuals [providing advice].”

He also said that while the Corporations Act differentiated between different types of advice, such as general advice, personal advice and licensed advice, the Corporations Amendment (Professional Standards of Financial Advisers) Act 2017 did not make those distinctions.

“This element of the act or this part of the act doesn’t distinguish between [providers] … anybody giving personal financial advice and [selling] financial products is a relevant provider. Doesn’t matter if you’re doing limited, doesn’t matter what detail you’re doing it in,” he said.

FASEA was still consulting on the parameters of degree equivalence and would release some guidance in the next few weeks, he said.

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