Zach Castles

The Financial Services Council will recommend to ASIC that the adviser exam be opened to all licensee staff in order to improve professionalisation and upskilling within teams.

Currently only existing advisers or new entrants in their professional year can register for the exam.

It will also recommend changes to how ASIC supports PY candidates who go on to become financial advisers by enabling all candidates to sit the exam remotely and before Q3 of their PY, allowing proposed candidates to self-register for the exam, and for ASIC to reduce processing times on exam results.

The catalyst cited by the FSC for the proposal is the reduction of adviser numbers which has dropped below 17,000 with predictions it could drop below 15,000 by the end of the year.

FSC policy director for advice Zach Castles tells Professional Planner PY candidates need a better system to ensure the industry continues to get new entrants into the financial advice profession and stem the decline in adviser numbers.

“ASIC should consider providing more flexibility and a better experience for professional year candidates by reducing processing times for reporting on exam results, enabling all candidates to sit the exam remotely and by allowing candidates to sit the exam earlier if they are ready.”

Some support

Profile Financial Services chief executive Lena Ridley says the idea has merit “at the edges”.

“There may be a subtle level of credibility that practitioners may ascribe to licensee staff, such as risk and compliance employees, who have completed the exam, particularly if the requirement to have completed an approved degree also remains.”

She says it may also support career transitions for risk and compliance or client service staff to complete the exam before commencing a PY and a transition into advising.

Diverger managing director Nathan Jacobsen says he is supportive of licensee staff who want to sit the exam if it’s to improve their knowledge.

“Many of my staff have done so, not as part of completing the degree requirements but for that same reason.”

However, he says it works best if it is optional does not become a mandatory requirement.

“Making it mandatory is problematic given the wide diversity of roles in licensee businesses – we are service providers who do more than just compliance.”