Farrell Platt

Technique rather than technical knowledge is the issue holding back exam candidates that struggle to pass the adviser exam, according to former FASEA national exam manager Farrell Platt. 

Speaking on a webcast hosted by the Association of Financial Advisers, Platt cited his experience reviewing issues candidates had in their responses to exam questions. 

“The majority of times its actually technique not technical knowledge,” Platt said. “I know that from history and because I know how the exam fits together.” 

Candidates that don’t pass the exam will get feedback in the three domains covered: financial advice, regulatory and legal obligations; applied ethical professional reasoning and communication; and financial construction sub domain areas. 

FASEA previously offered broader feedback on where advisers struggled, which included applying Chapter 7 of the Corporations Act to Statements of Advice and Financial Services Guides. 

“Do [candidates] need to get out Chapter 7 of the Corporations Act and start reading it cover to cover? Absolutely, in your own time because it’s a fantastic read,” Platt said. “But for the purposes of preparing for the exam… RG 175 is much easier read than the Corporations Act. It doesn’t replace or contradict it; it comes from it. It’s easier to get your head around.” 

Platt also recommended RG 78 and ASIC info sheet 259 for further reading on breach reporting, another area cited as an issue by FASEA.  

Lock it in, Eddie 

Platt pointed to multiple choice questions as a style that advisers can unexpectedly trip over, particularly for candidates who don’t have significant exam experience. 

“Read the question carefully, don’t rush it,” Platt said. “Don’t assume anything. Don’t bring in anything that doesn’t belong just stick with the question.” 

Platt said candidates he has worked with “jump to solution mode” too quickly. 

“By rushing in and assuming, you will miss the key points. Look for the key words or the salient points that you need to work with.” 

Unlike ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ there is no phone a friend or ask the audience options, but Platt pointed to way to you can quickly reduce the options in half. 

“Sometimes it’s easy to get rid of the two that don’t belong there and you will do a process of elimination to get down to a smaller task.” 

Platt said this is the process of getting the exam to do the work for the candidate. 

“The exam is there to help you out. If you take these points and get the exam to do some of the work for you, you’re going to have a much smoother experience and be able to get out the other side.” 

Upon reaching the final two options, which Platt describes as the key and the detractor, that is when the question can be re-assessed. 

“Look at the key words to guide you what is next,” Platt said. “That will guide you to the key and the detractor will simply disappear. Lock it on and move onto your next question.” 

Some empathy for those struggling 

AFA chief executive Phil Anderson acknowledged he copped heat from coming out in support of colleagues who are struggling with the exam. 

“It’s simply not an explanation to say they’re not passing because they don’t have the technical knowledge,” Anderson said. 

He pointed to a range of factors that impact a candidate’s ability to pass the exam including issues around mindset, language difficulty or trouble with using technology effectively. 

“I’ve been trying to make the point we still believe there are many good advisers who can still pass the exam.” 

The October extension was a polarising move with data from Adviser Ratings showing most advisers did not believe an extension should have been granted. 

Data supplied from the corporate regulator to Professional Planner this week showed 650 candidates have signed up for the July exam although it could not confirm how many candidates were sitting as part of their eligibility granted by the extension. 

At the start of the year ASIC submitted data to a Parliamentary committee showing 882 advisers on the FAR were eligible for the extension, although Wealth Data believes that number is closer to four figures. 

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