James Dakin won’t take the financial adviser examination lightly when he sits it on December 5.
It doesn’t matter that Dakin holds a Bachelor of Economics (Economics and Accounting) and a Master of Commerce (Accounting and Finance), in addition to being a Certified Practising Accountant (CPA) and a Certified Financial Planner (CFP).
Nor is it important that Dakin worked at global investment firms Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley before co-founding Park Street Group, a fully independent investment and wealth management firm designed to advise individuals, families and foundations.
Despite the experience and education Dakin has amassed over the past couple of decades, he says won’t be complacent when it comes to the FASEA exam which all registered financial advisers will have needed to have completed to continue to give advice from 1 January 2021.
“Our day to day jobs don’t require us to sit exams, so it doesn’t surprise me a lot of people feel the pressure having to do this,” Dakin tells Professional Planner.
Dakin will be part of the third and (to date) largest tranche of financial advisers to sit the exam required by the statutory body’s new education framework – 2430 advisers will sit the exam in December, FASEA disclosed on Wednesday. This follows the 1697 advisers who sat the exam during the September session and 597 brave souls who took the exam in the first sitting in June.
The advantage of waiting until now, Dakin notes, is that FASEA has since released practice questions, but also people sharing their experiences of their exam sittings as well as their pass fail rates has taken some of the nervousness from the experience away.
Dakin will leave no stone unturned to pass this latest hurdle. He says he did a “fair amount of study” before completing a practice exam offered through Kaplan which he passed reasonably comfortably and he plans to continue to study the material right up until his December 5 slot.
But despite Dakin’s comfort with education and appreciation of the advice industry’s need to graduate to professional status, there are still things he believes “haven’t quite hit the mark” regarding this process and in particular the exam requirement.
First, he notes some of his cohort who are have similar qualifications and experience to him are choosing to leave the industry rather than sitting the exam.
“I get the intent of the new education standards was to get rid of the bad apples, but I know some in the industry who are good operators and good advisers are saying it’s all too hard which I don’t think was the intention,” he says.
Second, Dakin notes that investment topics are strangely absent from the exam assessment criteria as is quality of advice assessment.
“I appreciate it’s difficult to assess quality of advice in an exam but surely investments should be part of it,” he says.
Despite his mixed feelings around the exam, Dakin will make history along with thousands of advisers with varying in age and experiences to be part of the largest group of individuals to sit the new FASEA exam in 2019.