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FASEA CEO takes to stage and fields Q&A at FPA Congress

Ten day consultation period is a luxury, says FPA Head of Policy

The CEO of the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) took to the FPA Congress stage at the ICC in Sydney this morning to a crowd of about 1,400 financial planning professionals eager to hear the latest education and policy reform updates direct from the recently appointed leader of the Government regulator.

It was a timely first public address by Stephen Glenfield given FASEA’s release in the last 48 hours of two further draft legislative instruments, one for education standards, and the other around code of ethics, with the remaining legislative instruments on exams, CPD and foreign qualifications due to be released “shortly”, he said. (See ‘Next Steps’ of Standards Summary).

“[Since joining as CEO in August] I’ve spent my time up to now listening. There were more than 800 detailed submissions received, dozens of meetings, and multiple consultation forums. Today is my time to reflect back to you what we believe are balanced and workable recommendations that draw upon that process of wide consultation,” he said.

FPA responds with confidence

FPA Head of Policy and Standards, Ben Marshan CFP® said, “We see 90-95% of what we asked for reflected in the legislative instruments released by FASEA so far this week.”

Acknowledging the imminent 14 December deadline for industry associations to respond to FASEA, Mr Marshan said, “Ten working days is a luxury in our world of policy at the FPA. We are confident in our ability to provide a comprehensive response in that consultation timeframe that represents our members’ feedback, and is in the interests of all Australians.”

Highlights of the consultation period feedback incorporated or clarified today include:

  • The restriction on the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® Certification Program needing to be completed after 2007 has been removed.
  • The work and training requirement for the Professional Year now requires a total of 1,600 hours of supervised practice in a 12 month period including only 100 hours of structured training. That’s a change from the 800 hours of training previously specified. “It recognises the Professional Year is one of learning on the job, with structured learning separate to that, so we’ve reduced the hours accordingly,” Mr Glenfield said.
  • All advisers must pass the same exam by 1 January 2021. Mr Glenfield clarified it will be the same exam for all advisers, regardless of specialisation.
  • A practice exam will be available. An adviser will be able to re-sit the exam more than once. The exam will be 3.5 hours open book with a mix of multiple choice and short answers.
  • FPA Diploma of Financial Planning (DFP) 1-8 has been identified as being eligible for the same credit as the Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning (ADFP).
  • More clarity regarding how FASEA will treat historical degrees, which includes 120 courses from 24 universities and education providers, with more to come. Responding to a question about why financial planning specific degrees or courses are not explicitly specified in the latest iteration of the draft Education Pathways Standard Legislative Instrument Mr Glenfield said, “If it’s a financial planning specific degree or course, or a degree that includes financial planning courses, it’s implicit that is on the approved FASEA list, but we’ll make it explicit after this next consultation period I think. If a degree is currently on the approved list it’ll always be on the approved list,” he said.
  • The FPA will have the opportunity to apply for all CFP® Certification Programs to receive credit. “Be assured we will be doing this as soon as possible,” said FPA CEO Dante De Gori CFP®.

Reform acknowledged as hard, but worthwhile

FPA Head of Policy and Standards, Ben Marshan CFP® followed the keynote and Q&A session with an upbeat address titled FASEA: The new standards explained. “I want to acknowledge it’s been difficult, I’ve personally fielded thousands of questions from many of you. But we’re making good progress in what we asked for you, and all Australians, and it will be worth it for our profession in the long run,” he said.

In his closing remarks, Mr Glenfield said, “The authority acknowledges and appreciates the feedback from right across the sector as well as consumer points of view. Those voices have been heard, and continue to be heard as we move through the next phase of consultation to the final standards.

“I’d like to acknowledge the feedback of the FPA and other associations in the consultation period. We’ve worked hard to address and simplify this complex challenge, operating in an environment of divergent, sometimes passionate, and occasionally misinformed poets of market discussion regarding our task. FASEA believes the standards blueprint represents a practical and workable response and solution,” Mr Glenfield said