More clarity needed about advisers’ prior learning

The SMSF Association is urging the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) to provide more guidance and certainty about how recognised prior learning for existing financial advisers will be implemented as they transition to the new education standards.

SMSF Association Head of Policy Jordan George says introducing higher education standards for financial advisers has always been a key policy goal for the organisation, but it is essential that advisers have greater clarity and certainty as to how their existing qualifications will count under the new education standards being proposed by FASEA.

In its submission to FASEA “on proposed guidance on education pathways for existing advisers”, the Association says advisers who have made every effort to be educated and have completed high quality education and accreditations should have their efforts to be professional recognised under the FASEA framework.

“Currently, the proposed FASEA education standards for existing advisors do not provide enough recognition for prior learning.
“A more meaningful recognition of advisers’ prior education should help them in the transition to the new regime with less cost and effort while maintaining the high standards that must be achieved to ensure consumer trust.”

George says the Association also strongly recommended in its submission that financial advisers who service SMSF trustees should be required to have completed specialised SMSF education.

“This has been a long-term position of the Association that was recently echoed by ASIC who recommended that specific SMSF education requirements for advisers be introduced to raise standards of advice in response to the advice failings documented in ASIC’s Report 575 ‘SMSFs: Improving the quality of advice and member experiences’.

“We also recommended greater flexibility for new entrants to undertake university study and still be able to enter the financial advice profession. The proposed FASEA pathway for new entrants is too rigid and may starve the industry of future advisers.” George says the Association also raised concerns about accountants giving SMSF advice under a limited license not being adequately considered under the existing pathways framework.

“We are advocating a specific pathway designed for the services they provide rather than having them spend considerable time and money studying subjects that are not relevant to the advice they provide,” he says.