Financial Planning, Regulation

Labor stance on degrees welcomed

Labor advisers degree

The federal opposition’s promise that it will not require experienced advisers to hold a degree has been welcomed by the SAFAA.

Federal opposition plans to scrap the need for experienced advisers to hold a degree have been welcomed by an industry body that has been calling for greater recognition of specialist advisers.

The Stockbrokers and Financial Advisers Association (SAFAA) said an announcement by opposition financial services and superannuation spokesman Stephen Jones that a Labor government would not require financial advisers with more than 10 years’ experience and a clean record to have a degree after 2026 was positive news for its members.

Financial advisers have until the start of 2026 to meet the incoming professional standards and education regime, which requires degree-level training for all advisers.

SAFAA chief executive Judith Fox said: “This is good policy because it recognises experienced stockbrokers and investment advisers who have long-standing relationships with clients over decades, passed the national exam, as well as an unblemished record, and their clients should not be disadvantaged because an adviser does not have a degree.

“Stockbrokers and investment advisers have been undertaking significant continuing professional development for many, many years, so continuous learning is a key aspect of their professional lives. Let’s not forget that stockbroking has been around since the coffee houses of London and Amsterdam and has been a profession for centuries.”

Fox said working in markets was different from being a financial planner and the current educational focus on financial planning degrees excludes specialist expertise specific to different advisory roles.

“In stockbroking, there are advisers with medical degrees who are experts on health stocks or geologists who are experts on resource stocks, yet their degrees are not recognised, and, of course, many in our industry have degrees in commerce, finance, economics and business, which the standards authority has not approved,” she said.

“Recognition of their experience of 10 years or more is common sense as it means that their expertise can continue to be utilised in raising capital for Australian businesses and assisting investors to take up investment opportunities.”

Earlier this year, Jones said recognition of prior learning of experienced advisers should be used to retain more of them within the sector rather than requiring them to fully retrain to meet the new standards.

He also said the failure of the professional standards and education regime to recognise specialist advisers ran counter to the advice reforms outlined in the Future of Financial Advice legislation.

The SAFAA has called for the greater recognition of specialist advice within the new professional standards and education regime, claiming it fits within a scaled advice model.

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