FPA chief executive Dante De Gori

The Financial Planning Association has suggested an ID verification-style, 100-point qualification checklist and a single exam for all planners in its draft proposals for how education could be scored and administered when new standards arrive.

Under the ID-style model, which was detailed at the FPA Roadshow in Brisbane yesterday, different qualifications would be assigned a certain number of points – much like a bank statement or Medicare card is assigned a value when verifying people’s identification – FPA chief executive Dante De Gori said.

“One hundred points being the degree-equivalent,” he said. “To achieve that 100 points, you need to demonstrate different units of study and courses that you’ve completed that would be worth so many points,” he said.

The education requirements will ultimately be decided by the newly formed Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA). De Gori stressed the model he spoke of was simply a draft blueprint for qualifying with previous study. The FPA expects the new authority to have an approved list of courses or subjects. Under the model the FPA proposed, each of those approved courses or subjects would have a numerical value.

For example, a financial planner with a degree in a relevant discipline would be appropriately qualified with 100 points, while a planner with a master’s designation would exceed 100 points. The plan would also consider the relevance of individual subjects and courses taken by Certified Financial Planners and advanced financial planning graduates, to determine how much further education they would need to be fully qualified. FASEA still has yet to decide what would count as a relevant discipline.

Points would similarly be assigned for units of study from diplomas and advanced diplomas of financial planning, but De Gori said the FPA does not believe diplomas and advanced diplomas alone would be viewed as sufficient qualification.

Under the FPA’s proposal, continuing professional development would account for two points per year, capped at 14 points.

“We’re trying to get that balance right for the number of points that can be attributed to CPD versus actual study,” De Gori said.

More than 80 per cent of roadshow attendees either ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ with the proposal, according to an interactive poll conducted on the day.

 One exam for all

The FPA also proposed a single exam with objective answers, rather than modular exams for planners who specialise in different areas.

“Irrespective of your area of expertise…everybody sits the same exam,” De Gori said. A generic exam would be a fairer solution for new entrants to the planning market and would also be less costly to administer than modular exams, he added.

Some of the topics the exam would cover under the FPA’s proposal include disclosure, the best-interests duty, the Tax Agent Services Act, anti-money laundering and counterterrorism procedures, common law, fiduciary duties and ethics.

Financial planners in the room in Brisbane wanted the exam to cover technical content, the interactive poll showed. De Gori said this had been a theme for the roadshows.

The FPA’s roadshows continue around Australia this week. To register, click here.

Professional Planner is the official media partner of the FPA Roadshow.

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