ASIC probed on monitoring adviser education standards

With measures to improve adviser professional and education standards due to take effect mid-next year, Labor Senator Deborah O'Neill has questioned ASIC about how it will ensure advisers are properly trained.

During a hearing of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services yesterday, Ms O'Neill asked the regulator what it was doing to ensure advisers who are still entering the industry on the "extremely thin quality RG 146" receive adequate training until the improved education requirements are brought in.

"At least until the middle of next year, RG 146 will allow people to participate [in the financial advice industry]," Ms O'Neill said.

"Do you have any concerns about that time frame? And what protections is ASIC putting in place to lift standards in the interim?" she asked.

Responding to Ms O'Neill, ASIC's senior executive leader of the financial adviser team, Louise Macaulay, said while the regulator conducts regular surveillance of the industry, the responsibility to ensure advisers are educated and properly trained lies with their licensee.

"Licensees have an obligation under their licence to provide training for their advisers, and that is clearly [something] we follow up," Ms Macaulay said.

"We are also, obviously, continuing our broader work that we do in relation to complaints that we receive about a particular adviser or licensee.

"One of the things that we may look at [through our] surveillance is the way a licensee is run and what it provides to ensure that its advisers are at a proper standard," she said.

Ms Macaulay added that she believes the industry is recognising the need to improve education and training and, in fact, taking it upon itself to meet those higher standards.

"I think, within the industry, there is recognition about changing standards of education and professionalism, and so the industry itself has moved to start to have its advisers improve their qualifications," she said.

"[The industry] itself is looking forward to these changes," Ms Macauly said.

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