financial advice, Regulation, SMSFA

Experience plan may have kept more advisers

Experienced adviser pathway

The experience pathway should have been offered sooner under the education changes of recent years and may have led to greater retention of advisers.

The SMSF Association has thrown its support behind the experienced adviser pathway being proposed by the federal government, noting if it had been part of changes introduced in 2017, more advisers would likely have stayed in the profession.

The association stated its support for the pathway in a submission to the government, which released draft legislation on recognising experienced financial advisers in mid-April.

The draft legislation proposed an adviser will have met education requirements if they had 10 years’ cumulative experience providing advice between 1 January 2007 and 31 December 2021; and did not have any disciplinary action recorded on the Financial Advisers Register before 31 December 2021.

The association stated the adoption of an experience-only pathway to meet the education requirements does not meet the original policy intent of enhancing professional standards, but “the profession would have been better served with clear education pathways and options that recognised the diverse financial advice system ecosystem. Not the rigid one-size-fits-all approach adopted”.

“There is a need for greater recognition of prior learning under existing tertiary education standards and the approval or courses and education pathways set by a body comprising of regulators, professional associations and tertiary education providers,” it said.

“These would have avoided the need for a watering down of the provisions and, in all likelihood, would have resulted in more advisers remaining in the profession.”

The industry body also supported the inclusion of a sunset clause for the experience pathway, noting its absence may allow advisers who have not satisfied the education requirements to remain in the profession indefinitely.

It differed in its view of the clean-record requirement, stating that rather than using 31 December 2021 as the deadline for compliance, that date should be extended to whenever the legislative changes receive royal assent.

We understand the desire for simplicity and certainty for the adviser, licensee and regulators. However, the proposed 31 December 2021 ‘line in the sand’ approach leaves a significant gap in time which risks an outcome contrary to the policy intent,” it said.

“The proposed pathway could see an adviser subject to an enforceable undertaking (or some other form of ASIC sanction) still satisfy the experienced adviser pathway criteria because that action arose after 31 December 2021. This outcome, whilst not intended, could be very damaging to the financial advice profession.”

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