FASEA's Stephen Glenfield (left) with the FPA's Dante De Gori

Six hundred advisers have registered for FASEA’s first landmark exam to be conducted this month, the statutory body’s chief executive Stephen Glenfield has confirmed.

The exam, a practice example of which was shared by FASEA in May, has become the essential gateway for advisers who wish to stay in the industry.

Commenting on its significance to the advice industry’s future at Professional Planner’s Licensee Summit on Tuesday, Glenfield described the exam as “major”, before adding that FASEA doesn’t have control of some of the factors that might be challenging the advice community such as the implementation timeframe.

Advisers who have not undertaken and passed the exam by the end of 2020 will be removed from ASIC’s adviser register and will essentially cease to be an adviser within the licensed advice system.

Glenfield told close to 100 delegates at the Licensee Summit in the Blue Mountains that since the practice exam was published, FASEA has run a separate practice exam with a group of retired practitioners to have a “last say” to ensure the questions are “fair” in advance of the first round. The first round of exams will begin on June 20 and 24.

Glenfield acknowledged the aged care question that popped up in the practice exam may have perhaps misled practitioners to believe specific technical knowledge would be a focus of the exam.

“What you won’t find in that exam is a really technical question about aged care; we are going to bring out some additional practice questions to make that a bit clearer,” he said.

“As we start to do exams we will have a body of work we can keep producing as practice exam. The aged care example was designed to show you what the structure was going to look like,” he said.

‘We never set a percentage’

In response to a question from FPA CEO Dante De Gori, Glenfield said FASEA has not gone into the education framework and subsequent examination process with a view on what the pass/fail rate outcome might be.

“We never set a percentage; we have never discussed a number we want or expect to pass [the exam].

“We designed the exam to set a competency level. If everyone passes and the entire advice industry moves forward and they’re all competent, then that’s great,” he added.

Glenfield described the need to be communicating FASEA’s priorities and framework as “paramount”.

“I’ve made a conscious effort to make myself available at these events. I’ve been meeting stakeholders regularly and having interactions with individual advisers. We are operationalising now which for me means far more communication, we’re really conscious about that,” he said.

Comparing his time at FASEA with his previous role at the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority where he was general manager, Glenfield described FASEA as a “different beast”, given the prudential regulator not only wrote policy but also enforced it.

“FASEA is a standard setter. FASEA writes the framework but it doesn’t supervise, that rests in the hands of code monitoring bodies or the regulator,” he explained.

Glenfield used the forum to acknowledge the pace of change the advice industry is currently going through, adding that he is doing everything he can to help advice groups adapt within the framework set in the Corporations Act where FASEA’s responsibilities are enshrined.

“I am conscious [that] change is non-stop, it just keeps coming. What we are trying to do is get the tools out there as early as possible to give people the best opportunity to get through,” he said.

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.
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