The appointment of Dr Deen Sanders as the inaugural chief executive of the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) sends a clear message to the financial planning community that the development of new and onerous education, professional and ethical standards is in the best possible hands.

Sanders, a former chief professionalism officer for the Financial Planning Association (FPA), and most recently the chief executive officer of the Professional Standards Councils (PSC), was named as the inaugural CEO of FASEA on Friday and will take up his new position on September 18. The FASEA board is scheduled to hold its second meeting today (August 14).

During his time at the FPA, Sanders was an integral member of the FPA teams that developed professional standards and a code of ethics for FPA members. He drove the association to become the closest thing financial planning has to a professional association.

Sanders also was a driving force behind the creation of the Financial Planning Education Council (FPEC) – the body that developed the undergraduate financial planning curriculum now offered by 14 institutions.

At the PSC, Sanders’ role was to work “with industry, government and regulators to protect consumers and promote excellence in professional standards by encouraging self-regulation”.

His appointment at FASEA reunites him with former FPA chair and current FASEA board member Matthew Rowe, and with former FPEC chair and current FASEA board member Professor Mark Brimble.

In a statement the chair of FASEA, Catherine Walter, said Sander’s appointment comes at a pivotal time for the financial advice sector in Australia.
She said Sanders’s background and experience will “help guide a renewed approach to improving standards, alongside a clear focus on mandatory ethical requirements to improve public trust and confidence”.
Sanders will be charged with leading FASEA as it develops university-degree entry-level education requirements and minimum ongoing CPD standards, an industry-wide exam (both the content and how it will be administered), an industry-wide code of ethics and the professional year requirements for all new financial planners.

From January 1, 2019, new advisers will need to hold a relevant degree, determined by FASEA, before they can undertake the professional year and sit the industry-wide exam.

Existing advisers – those already on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’ financial advisers register (FAR) as at January 1, 2019 – will have until January 1, 2021, to pass the exam and until January 1, 2024, to attain a degree or degree-equivalent qualification. All advisers will be required to adhere to the industry-wide code of ethics from January 1, 2020.

In certain respects, Sanders’ role at FASEA will be to expand the reach of the work he did at the FPA. While standards and codes developed by the FPA apply only to FPA members, the work of FASEA will affect every individual who is listed on the advisers’ register.

Individuals who fail to meet the FASEA-developed standards will be removed from the register and barred from practising.

Sanders’ intimate understanding of the work that has already been undertaken in the industry to develop university degree requirements, professional standards and ethics suggests that FASEA will minimise the time and energy it expends reinventing the wheel, and that the ambitious timetable set out by the government has a decent chance of being met.

In a statement Sanders said he is “excited to lead FASEA, and am honoured to have been selected to help guide the organisation through the historic opportunity to improve public confidence and trust in the financial advice sector”.

His appointment is the culmination of a national search conducted by the executive recruitment firm Egon Zehnder. 

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