The Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) has issued guidance to existing financial advisers which could radically slash the time it takes to meet new education standards. The professional standards legislation requires all existing advisers – known as “relevant providers” – to complete a bachelor or higher degree, or equivalent, by January 1, 2024.

Under proposed guidance issued today, the standards authority has outlined a significant new pathway, announcing that existing advisers will be deemed to meet the requirements if they complete a course that offers at least eight units at AQF level 8 that cover ethics, professional attitudes and behaviours, the financial planning and advice process and technical issues.

FASEA notes that an AQF8 program generally leads to a postgraduate diploma qualification, and can typically be competed in two years, part-time. This compares to a bachelor degree, which takes six years part-time, and master’s degree, which takes four years part-time.

Even in a worst-case scenario, for an adviser who currently has no relevant qualifications, it may be possible to gain entry to an AQF level 8 postgraduate diploma course after completing a one-year postgraduate certificate program first.

Postgraduate certificate courses will vary from provider to provider, but will generally recognise industry experience as entry criteria.

FASEA will commence a period of consultation on its latest guidance, starting in the new year and ending on June 29. In a statement, it said it is important to provide guidance as soon as possible to existing advisers on pathways open to them to meet new education standards.

FASEA has previously announced that advisers will meet the new education standards if they have already attained a degree on the FASEA/Financial Planing Education Council (FPEC) approved register; or if they attain an approved qualification (such as one on the FASEA/FPEC approved register) by January 1, 2024.

A document explaining the qualifications pathway, Existing adviser qualifications pathway – proposed guidance are available on the FASEA website.

The Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O’Dwyer said she welcomed the release of the guidance.

“Unless an adviser already holds a formal, approved qualification … they will be required to undertake some form of education leading to an AQF7 or AQF8 qualification,” she said in a statement. “Advisers will be required to complete that program before 1 January 2024.”

O’Dwyer said that previous education requirements for advisers allowed some to “become qualified to provide financial advice to retail consumers after only four days of training”, which the Financial System Inquiry and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services both found to be insufficient.

“This announcement by FASEA continues the implementation of the Government’s reforms that will build trust and confidence in the financial advice industry and ensure that consumers have access to professional advisers who will put their interests first,” she said.

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