Deborah Kent (left), Michelle Cull and Brian Knight

Tertiary providers have been left hung out to dry from the experience pathway after spending years investing in financial advice qualifications to help fulfill the professional standard.

The Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones released draft legislation for the education carve-out for advisers with 10 years’ experience and a clean record which failed to include a sunset clause which was proposed by the top professional associations.

Integra Financial Services co-founder Deborah Kent, who worked on the board for FASEA, tells Professional Planner the universities put in tremendous work into designing advice courses that matched the requirements laid out by the authority.

“There’s an awful lot of work that went into it and what will happen is they’re not going to get the numbers now if this new pathway goes through for new entrants particularly,” Kent says.

“It’s a shame. Some universities have put together some really good courses that may not get the numbers. The commercial reality is do [they] keep running it?”

Candidly, Kent describes the carve out as a “step too far”.

“I truly get why people want an experience pathway but to allow somebody to just go through the gate with no extra education than RG146 which is four subjects is nonsense,” she says.

“I just can’t see how, if we want to treat ourselves as professionals, if we can allow this to happen where advisers with just 10 years’ experience and a clean record don’t have to do the ethics course.”

She adds that making it easier for advisers with experience to achieve the pathway is fair, but to have them do nothing waters down professionalism.

“Will it bring advisers back into the industry? I don’t know,” she says. “A lot of the advisers who have left couldn’t get through the exam.”

Long road to ruin

Reflecting on the path to education reform, Western Sydney University associate dean Michelle Cull was disappointed with the Jones’ proposal.

“I just can’t believe how far we’ve come and now it’s gone backwards,” Cull says.

She adds the experience pathway won’t make an immediate difference for how WSU approaches financial planning education. “Everything takes time. It’s not something we’ll rush.”