Overshadowed by the plan to give leniency to experienced advisers under the education regime, another proposal in Treasury’s education consult could see FASEA-approved degrees become less relevant in exchange for a post-graduation specialisation.

The Education Standards for Financial Advisers policy paper was released by Treasury in late December which sought feedback on the proposal to exempt advisers with ten years of experience and a clean compliance record from FASEA’s equivalent degree requirement.

Included in the Government’s consultation to match the proposal made by the opposition was a change to the new entrant education standard: FASEA-approved degrees could become broader, with the caveat that professional year entrants were required to undertake AQF8 level study – a graduate diploma or certificate.

The PY was a requirement that came into place in 1 January 2019 which required provisional advisers to undertake 1,600 hours of work, including 100 hours of structured training.

The consultation paper asked: “Whether the professional year standard (set out in the Corporations (Work and Training Professional Year Standard) Determination 2018) should be amended to require additional study at a graduate certificate or diploma (AQF8) level to complement the broadening of the relevant fields of study.

“These could be done in a specialised area of the licensee and new entrant’s choosing, allowing the professional year candidate to develop a deeper knowledge alongside their practical training.”

Treasury’s amended proposed education pathway meant financial advisers would still need to complete up to eight units, but these units could be completed “across broader fields and specialisations”.

“As per existing settings, to complete a bachelor’s degree, a financial adviser will need to complete 24 units,” it noted in the consult.

“To complete an eight-unit graduate diploma, a financial adviser will need to meet the entry requirements of the education provider which will be either that the adviser has completed a bachelor’s degree or have a certain number of years of experience.”

Phil Anderson, Association of Financial Advisers chief executive, said the proposal was a point of concern.

“With the proposal to move away from FASEA-approved undergraduate degrees to a requirement for a degree that includes eight subjects in the nominated relevant fields, the new advisers who might qualify to enter the profession of financial advice, would be doing this with significantly less specific financial advice knowledge,” Anderson said.

“For this reason, the expectations for the professional year would need to change significantly to ensure that they had the foundation level of knowledge on financial advice.”

More obstacles

Given the low amount of provisional advisers that had joined the industry, it could create another obstacle for the industry which was having difficulty recruiting.