An SMSF Association representative has reminded advisers not to shoot the messenger with regards to incoming education standards.
Peter Hogan, the association’s head of education and technical, made his comments during a panel discussion on the key takeaways from this year’s SMSF Association National Conference, where speakers advocated for change and defended Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority chief executive Deen Sanders.
Referring to the FASEA chief’s talk the previous day, Hogan reminded the audience that Sanders is beholden to both the FASEA board and the legislation Financial Services minister Kelly O’Dwyer.
“I feel, to some extent, that Deen is perhaps the messenger getting shot,” Hogan said. “But he has legislation and he has a board telling him how they’re going to interpret that legislation.”
Hogan also noted that Sanders and the FASEA board were bringing forward some of the decision-making with regards to prior learning credits and bridging courses.
“The fact that they’ve listened to what the industry has said and brought that forward significantly is, I think, a good thing.”
Also on the panel were Craig Day, executive manager for technical services at Colonial First State and Scott Hay-Bartlem, partner at Cooper Grace Ward.
The idea of going back to school was also endorsed by Day, who has recently continued his education and is completing a master’s degree in taxation “after 20 years of running a technical services team”.
“Going back…I won’t say it’s easy,” Day admitted. “You’ve got a busy job and a young family and you’re trying to squeeze it all in. But it has absolutely been worthwhile. There are aspects of the education process that you re-engage with that I strongly value.”
“I found it a rewarding process. If you can engage and embrace it, there’s really something to be had.”
Hogan reaffirmed that the SMSF Association will continue to champion efforts to raise adviser standards, but warned against collateral damage.
“We, as an association, have said many times that we support the concept of improved and comprehensive education standards for the industry; we don’t see that as a negative,” Hogan said. “But we do have some concerns about how we’re going to get there.”
To that end, the SMSF Association will be conducting consultation roadshows, he said, whereby advisers can provide feedback that will then be taken back to the FASEA board. Hogan is looking for dialogue around the experience and wisdom of older advisers, who may feel marginalised or misplaced by the new education standards.
“My greatest regret will be if, at the end of this process, we lose the knowledge that experienced advisers have after 20 or 30 years of working in this industry, because they can’t meet those standards or have no desire to do so,” he said.
These advisers, Hogan explained, provide vital guidance and mentorship for the next generation. One of the most important things about the profession, he said, is that the people who have been here for many years act as mentors and guides for people who have less experience.
“As someone bluntly put it this morning, graduates don’t know anything,” he said. “And it’s sort of true.”