Multiple industry participants invited by the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) during the final stages of a consultation process to determine education guidelines for financial advisers were required to sign non-disclosure agreements, it is understood.

It is believed that FASEA, the statutory body brought into existence following the Corporations Amendment (Professional Standards of Financial Advisers) Act 2017, required participants to sign the non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to allay concerns their commercially sensitive information could be used by other parties around the table during a frank discussion.

The meeting in question took place after FASEA had collated all of the submissions lodged during the broader consultation process, it is understood. FASEA’s submission period closed at the end of August.

The meeting, attended by a range of industry representatives, formed the final stages of FASEA’s consultation process. The contents of the discussion was believed to have been used by the body to fine-tune its thinking on the new education framework for financial advisers that it will ultimately be responsible for bringing into existence.

While a time frame for the guidelines is yet to be set and will involve the drafting of legislation, it is understood that process is progressing. The FASEA board of directors, which comprises of a range of experts from the financial services and wealth management industry, will hold its next board meeting on Monday.

Since coming into existence in April 2017 and subsequently being given a mandate to set the education, training and ethical standards of licensed financial advisers in Australia, FASEA lost its founding CEO, Deen Sanders, to consulting firm Deloitte. Mark Brimble, Griffith University Business School Professor of Finance, was appointed interim chief executive before former general manager within the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, Stephen Glenfield, started as FASEA’s full-time chief executive at the end of August.

Also during this time, a government spill led to a Cabinet reshuffle, which resulted in the financial services portfolio – previously under Kelly O’Dwyer MP – being split between new treasurer Josh Frydenberg, and new assistant treasurer, Stuart Robert.

Many are predicting advisers – particularly those approaching retirement age – will use the introduction of the FASEA standards as a catalyst to leave the industry. Meanwhile, those who have completed the Certified Financial Planning (CFP) designation will be waiting patiently to find out whether their qualifications will count towards other recognised qualifications.

The Act outlines that FASEA must approve bachelor-level or higher degrees or equivalent qualifications for existing providers to meet higher education standards and the Financial Planning Association has lobbied for qualifications gained by CFPs to count towards other recognised qualifications.

Tertiary institutions, meanwhile, are pushing ahead with financial planning courses based on FASEA’s draft guidelines in lieu of the release of the final framework.

There are seven areas FASEA is expected to provide final legislative guidance on soon before advisers are required by law to adhere to the new standards. Its first draft guidance on new entrant degree standards was released last October. New entrants into financial advice will be required to meet these new entrant degree standards on January 1 next year.

New standards for the remaining six areas – the professional year requirement, pathways for existing qualification, continuing professional development requirements, pathways for foreign qualifications, adherence to a code of ethics and other transitional arrangements – will be required by law to be met in stages leading up to the final legislative educational requirement in 2024.

 

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Smith is the editor of Professional Planner’s print and digital platforms. He is an experienced financial journalist, editor and multimedia producer who has held senior editorial positions both in mainstream press and trade media.