ASIC, Education, financial advice

ASIC issues adviser qualifications warning

ASIC Financial Adviser Register Adviser qualifications compliance program

ASIC will check information submitted by Australian financial services licensees regarding their advisers' qualifications following the discovery of reporting issues in a recent review.

Australian financial services (AFS) licensees must ensure their advisers’ qualifications are accurately recorded in the Financial Advisers Register (FAR) as the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) will begin a compliance program starting in August to verify this information.

The corporate watchdog issued the warning after a review revealed errors and inconsistencies in information provided by licensees, specifically in regards to qualifications and training courses being marked as ‘approved’ on the FAR when they did not meet the requirements of the Corporations (Relevant Providers Degrees, Qualifications and Courses Standard) Determination 2021.

Several common errors identified by ASIC included qualifications marked as approved that did not match the wording in the determination, professional designations such as certified financial planner incorrectly listed as approved qualifications and bridging courses marked as approved when they needed to be combined with another qualification.

Additionally, some entries had incorrectly listed completing the financial adviser exam and certain ASIC Regulatory Guide 146 training courses as approved qualifications.

“AFS licensees are urged to immediately check all the information recorded about their financial advisers on the Financial Advisers Register, with a particular focus on the adviser’s approved qualifications, ability to provide tax and financial advice services, business address and telephone number,” ASIC stated.

“From 1 August 2024, ASIC will commence a compliance program to ensure that the information recorded on the Financial Advisers Register about approved qualifications is correct and will consider enforcement action where necessary.

“This will remain a key focus for ASIC in the lead-up to 1 January 2026, when all financial advisers must comply with the qualification standard, either by completing an approved qualification, by completing qualifications the minister has determined to be equivalent to an approved qualification for existing advisers or by accessing the experienced provider pathway.”

Licensees must rectify any incorrect or outdated information via the ASIC Connect portal, with a single fee covering multiple updates.

The regulator has also provided a dataset, which will be available until 31 July on its website, to help licensees identify if their advisers’ qualifications are currently marked as approved on the FAR.

It warned penalties will apply to licensees who provide false or misleading information or fail to update the FAR within 30 business days of any changes in adviser details.

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