Stuart Robert (left) and Stephen Jones

In hindsight new shadow financial services minister Stuart Robert would’ve liked to see the major industry associations take a more hands-on approach with regulating education after conceding mistakes were made with the FASEA regime.

Speaking at the Investment Magazine Retirement Conference in Canberra, Robert said having an external body was a “dog’s breakfast” and didn’t work.

“I’d rather the industry self-regulate itself with the bodies coming together – the AFA and FPA coming together – that would be marvellous, to have its own accreditation body of education or skills or experience would be a far better way of doing it,” Robert said.

Echoing comments he made last weekend to the AFR, Robert conceded the “government got it wrong” on FASEA.

“FASEA occurred before me as assistant treasurer,” he said. “It made a number of errors.”

He said not everything should’ve been prescribed to legislation which would’ve given ministers more discretion to make changes.

“The legislation was poor, but the intent was good. The financial services industry had years and review after review to get its act together on education. The government overreached with FASEA and put in what was a bureaucratic nightmare, hence we got rid of it.”

Robert was critical of the previous RG 146 regime which set out the minimum standards for training for financial product advisers.

“There were practitioners coming through who would do an RG146 and they would do it over two days,” Robert said. “I went and did it. Went to Kaplan, downloaded what I needed to, didn’t bother reading it and sat the exam the next morning at 9am supervised by my department.”

Current financial services minister Stephen Jones said the old model of doing financial advice “took a long time to die but is well and truly dead” and won’t be resurrected.

“It would be misplaced grief if we said every person who has left the industry over the last five or six years was a national tragedy.”

Jones said the industry is on a journey of professionalisation, but it has been a rocky one.

“If FASEA was a good idea it’s been poorly executed. The underlying idea of having an ethics driven, professionally qualified profession providing bespoke financial advice in the best interest of their clients is the right idea and there will be no going back on that.

Another consultation on the education standard is expected to commence in the near future.