Industry applauds passing of exam extension

FASEA exam

The passing of a bill allowing an extension to the deadline for advisers to complete the FASEA exam has been widely welcomed by the financial advice sector.

Financial advisers will have until the start of 2021 to complete the mandatory Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) exam after a bill that allowed for the extension of the time frame in which to complete it passed through the Senate today.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (2019 Measures No 3) Bill had been subject to a series of back and forth movements between the Senate and House of Representatives in May when the Labor Party and Greens sought to add non-related amendments.

The same movement of the bill occurred again last week when Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick added a further unrelated amendment dealing with financial reporting obligations for large proprietary companies.

The bill was sent back to the lower house where the addition was rejected on 15 June and then sent back to the Senate where Patrick withdrew the amendment today, allowing for it to be passed.

Patrick said his party would not insist on the amendments being attached to the bill at this time as “there is an urgent need for financial advisers to be relieved in terms of their requirements for professional qualifications”.

The passing of the bill also extends the time frame for financial advisers to meet the FASEA qualification requirements, which will now have a deadline of 1 January 2026.

Assistant Minister for Superannuation and Financial Services Jane Hume said the extension ensures all advisers now have two years to sit the exam and allowed working parents and those taking parental leave sufficient time to meet the FASEA education requirements.

“I welcome the passage of this important bill. This will provide welcome relief to financial advisers by delivering certainty of the exam timetable. The government recognises how valuable access to quality professional financial advice is, particularly at the moment during the COVID-19 crisis,” Hume said.

The new time frames have been welcomed across the financial advice sector and SMSF Association chief executive John Maroney said the strong support for the bill in the Senate was good news for advisers.

“It illustrates all sides of parliament recognise that the industry needs more time to adjust to the FASEA reforms while remaining on the path towards improved financial advice standards,” Maroney said.

“Throughout this exercise the government, opposition and minor parties have demonstrated a willingness to listen to genuine industry concerns about the pace of change, while not sacrificing the integrity of the reforms that are so crucial to raising the industry’s educational, training and ethical standards.”

FPA chief executive Dante De Gori said advocating for an extension had been a key priority for the association, adding: “Today is a victory for our members and we are very pleased that financial planners now have more flexibility to complete their study.

“This bill is a lifeline for financial planners across Australia and will grant them the necessary extension to complete new education requirements at a time when they are out in our communities providing advice to Australians during COVID-19.”

Association of Financial Advisers chief executive Philip Kewin thanked those involved in passing the bill for recognising the positive impact it would have on financial advisers.

“Financial advisers will now be able to operate with certainty in planning for successfully passing the exam before the end of 2021 and the completion of their education requirements by the end of 2025,” Kewin said.

“We thank the Minister, Senator Jane Hume, for putting up the bill to enable the extensions to the deadlines, and the ALP and the minor parties for their support of the bill.”

FASEA also welcomed the passing of the legislation, with chief executive Stephen Glenfield pointing to the “strong performance” of nearly 8000 advisers who have sat the exam, of which 86 per cent have passed.

Glenfield said a further 2250 advisers will soon receive results for the June exam sitting and another 2200 had already registered for the August exam.

He also noted around 3000 advisers were enrolled in bridging courses and over 6500 individual bachelor or higher degree subjects were being undertaken by existing advisers.

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