FASEA chief executive Stephen Glenfield

The number of advisers passing the FASEA’s financial adviser exam dropped to 79 per cent in the fifth round of testing, according to latest figures released by the authority today.

The number is a significant markdown from the 86 per cent of total advisers that have passed the exam to this point.

The exam was the first to be held exclusively using remote proctoring methods due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which posed a new set of challenges for advisers unfamiliar with the technology.

“FASEA is pleased to present the outcomes of the fifth exam and congratulates successful candidates on completing an important component of their education requirements under the Corporations Act during the current extraordinary circumstances,” FASEA chief executive Stephen Glenfield said in a statement.

Glenfield is due to provide insights into FASEA’s journey at the Professional Planner digital licensee summit on June 2. To register, visit here.

FASEA report that 7958 advisers have sat the exam so far, representing 35 per cent of those on ASIC’s Financial Adviser Registry. A total of 470 advisers sat the April exam, a marked decrease from the 2231 that sat the February exam.

On Thursday last week the government announced a ban on conflicted LIC payments, which effectively removed the last stumbling block to an extension of the time frames for advisers to meet the FASEA education mandate. The LIC ban – a topic of consternation between the government and the opposition – had been attached to a Bill that carried the extension.

It is understood the Bill will now be reintroduced, and likely passed, in June. This would give advisers an additional 12 months to pass the exam, stretching the end date out to the end of 2021.

Industry heads recently made the point that specialist advisers in the financial planning industry such as insurance advisers, brokers and accountants providing SMSF advice under limited license provisions were struggling with the exam because it was tailored to standard advisers.

Noting that advisers in the SMSF Advisers Network licensee, which is owned by the National Tax Accountants Association, had reduced from 1021 to 869 in the last year, NTAA chief executive Geoff Boxer said there was “no doubt FASEA had been a big factor”.

“The guys have got to do these exams on things they’re never going to give advice about,” Boxer added. “To be forced to study those units to the same extent as a full financial planner puts them in a position where it’s not attractive.”

The next FASEA exam is due to sit in June, with over 2000 advisers already registered.