FPA, AFA welcome exam postponement

Two major representative planning bodies say the delay in the development of a national exam for advisers is to be welcomed, reiterating the need for industry self-regulation. 

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) yesterday announced it would be delaying work on the initiative, blaming a heavy workload due to Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) reform implementation.

The Financial Planning Association’s chief executive Mark Rantall told ifa the association welcomed the delay.

The advice industry is currently “drowning in a sea of regulation”, dealing with the impact of FOFA reforms and additional obligations under the Tax Agent Services Act, he said.

“While we understand that the regulator has an obligation to monitor competencies and standards, we feel self-regulation of the industry is a better way to proceed with educational standards,” Rantall said.

Association of Financial Advisers chief executive Brad Fox described the delay as a sensible and practical move.

“Advisers need every support possible to adapt their business models to be compliant under the new laws,” he said.

“We’re now only 80 days away from the first major change, being the introduction of fee disclosure statements. Small business owners are well and truly focused on what needs to be done and the more time they have to adjust to education the better.

However, the SMSF Professionals’ Association of Australia's national technical director, Graeme Colley, said the deferral was a disappointment.

“We want to see much higher standards of education, which the examination will help bring about. Education is the key to good advice,” he said.

The exam is part of a range of enhancements to adviser standards outlined in ASIC’s CP153 paper. ASIC did not say how long it expected work to be delayed but said it would “continue to explore options to implement this proposal at the appropriate time once the FOFA reforms have been bedded down”.

The regulator added that it will continue to consult on enhancements to the training standards for financial product advisers over the coming months.

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