Govt to bring advisers on par with other professions

Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Small Business Kelly O'Dwyer has emphasised that improving professional standards for advisers will bring the industry onto a "similar footing" with other professions.

In her first major speech to the financial services industry, during the FSC and BT's political breakfast series yesterday, Ms O'Dwyer outlined its "financial system program", which is in response to the recommendations of the Financial System Inquiry.

As part of the program, the government will raise professional, ethical and education standards for advisers and product providers which, in turn, will ensure consumers "receive fair treatment", she said.

"These higher standards will place financial advice on a similar footing to other professions and, in doing so, increase consumer trust and confidence in the sector," Ms O'Dwyer said.

"Subject to transitional arrangements, advisers will be required to hold a degree, pass an exam, undertake continuous professional development, subscribe to a code of ethics and undertake a professional year before they can advise clients.

"I appreciate the FSC's ongoing engagement in this space and I thank the FSC in advance for continuing to progress this reform. This will be vital to ensure that industry continues to work together and with government to establish an independent standards-setting entity which the government will recognise in legislation," she said.

Ms O'Dwyer added that the government is taking measures to ensure consumers "receive fair treatment from advisers and the providers of financial products and services" by addressing remuneration in the life insurance sector.

"As part of our financial system program, we have adopted the final industry reform proposal which I announced earlier this month to improve the long-term sustainability of the sector while at the same time better aligning the interests of advisers, insurers and consumers," Ms O'Dwyer said.

She added that the government's financial system program overall sets out a "blueprint" for how Australia will respond to challenges and opportunities within the financial services industry over the coming years.

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