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CPD plan deadline looms

Financial advisers who are concerned they may have to complete a year’s worth of continuing professional development (CPD) before the end of the current financial year have been reminded this is not the case, but they are still required to lodge their CPD plans by the end of this week.

In a Macquarie Bank Technical Advice Services webinar, technical services manager Stephanie Russell said while the new CPD requirements, as mandated by the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA), began on 1 January 2019 for all advisers, they only had until 31 March to have a CPD plan in place.

“This is one of the reforms that requires more immediate attention and advisers are required to have a written plan in place by the end of this month,” Russell said, adding that individual advisers were responsible for the development of the plan, but could seek input and direction from their licensees.

Under the FASEA CPD standard, licensees are also required to have their CPD policy in place, available on their website and individual plans for authorised representatives in place.

Russell said the CPD plans would fit into a one-off transitional period in which advisers would not be required to complete 40 hours of CPD before 30 June 2019, but would instead be required to complete 60 hours between 1 January 2019 and 30 June 2020.

“For the first CPD year we have some transitional rules as the FASEA requirements began for all advisers from 1 January, but licensees are able to choose the start date of their CPD year program,” she said.

“To account for that transition, the first CPD year will actually run from the start of 2019 until 30 June 2020 and as it is an 18-month period, the CPD hours required have increased in proportion to this period.”

She said Macquarie was encouraging advisers to begin their CPD as soon as possible and warned practitioners who failed to complete their required CPD hours in any year would be reported to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) as non-compliant.

“There is an obligation on licensees to report non-compliance with CPD requirements to ASIC, which will in turn publish that information on its Financial Advice Register,” she noted.

“It does not matter what the reasons are for the non-compliance and there is no allowance for special circumstances even where there may be unforeseen events.

“There is also no materiality threshold, so an adviser who is only one hour short on their CPD requirements will be treated in the same way as an adviser who did zero CPD hours. It is very much a black-and-white test,” Russell warned.

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