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One-off exam will not solve problems, says DeakinDigital CEO

The government's proposed one-off exam – intended to help rectify the industry's professional issues – is not likely to solve the problem, the head of DeakinDigital has said.

Earlier this month, the government released draft legislation to lift adviser standards, suggesting that all advisers must pass a one-off exam to remain in the industry.

Speaking to ifa, Allyn Radford, chief executive of the Deakin University subsidiary that offers credentials to financial planning firms, said he is not convinced the exam is necessary.

"When you consider that financial planning, by its nature, is an industry filled with people who migrate into that particular profession, the challenge is to ensure that when they migrate in, they exhibit all of the right professional characteristics," he said.

"But I get stuck on the idea that an exam is going to solve the problem. Are you going to test them on their professional ethics? Or are you going to asses them on a body of knowledge that relates to financial advice? It's a lot to try and cover within a single exam."

Like the FPA and AFA with their designations, Mr Radford said he will push to get DeakinDigital's credentials recognised as degree equivalents – which all advisers will need to have by July 2019.

Courses considered equivalent to degrees will be determined by an independent standards-setting body, set to begin operating by 1 July 2016, according to the government's draft bill.


Mr Radford, however, does not believe advisers with several years of experience should be required to head back into the classroom.

Instead, he hopes what DeakinDigital does, which is offer assessments for advisers and their firms and give out credentials for them to prove their capabilities, will be considered. The program is based on what advisers already know, and does not require them to complete any extra courses, he said.

"The reason we created this was because we kept on hearing from people, who have been in the industry for quite some time, that they don't want to go back and do a higher degree because they already know that stuff," Mr Radford said.

"They've been doing it in their jobs day in and day out for a long period of time. A lot of them would turn around and say 'We could actually teach that stuff. We don't want to sit in the classroom and have to pretend we're learning something'.

"What they need to do is have that levelled and assessed in a way that tells other people that they know how to do their job and that they can comply with the relevant standards."