Majority of advisers support recognition of experience
While a final version of the new education standards is still being debated, a majority of advisers have voiced support for having experience considered in the transition pathway.
According to an ifa straw poll, more than 80 per cent of respondents agreed that years of experience should count for existing advisers transitioning to the new standards. Out of 328 votes, only 20 per cent believed experience should not count.
This debate first sparked in December 2015 when the government released draft legislation that stated prior learning for existing advisers will be measured by the types of courses advisers have completed.
Industry associations have since responded to the draft, calling for amendments so that it also recognises advisers' experience and competence, and not just their academic achievements.
Speaking to ifa, JBS Financial Strategists' chief executive and founder, Jenny Brown, said she believes advisers' experience should be considered, but only as long as it is paired with other accomplishments.
"There needs to be a combination of education levels, professional designations and relevant experience," she said.
"For an experienced adviser with, say, 15-plus years, who holds an advanced diploma and specialist skills in areas that they practice in such as risk, SMSF or retirement planning, together with professional designations such as FChFP SSA, or CFP, then, yes, it should count.
"To be expected to complete a degree within a two-year time frame while working full-time is quite unreasonable. However, for those with only a RG146 minimum qualification, then they need to recognise that if we are to be called a profession, we need to raise this to a higher level."
Dianne Charman, managing director of Jade Financial Group, would agree, adding that since experience is "highly valued" by clients, it should also be valued in the legislation.
"Experience is a skill that only comes with applying for your knowledge. The advisers who have consistently improved their knowledge over the years and have demonstrated competency in providing financial advice should have recognition of this," she told ifa.
On the other hand, Stephan Strategic director James Stephan said to label an adviser as experienced based on their years of service is "naive". He recommends the government should implement a "bridging assessment".
"I believe some 'experienced' advisers are really only 'mature' advisers who might simply stood the test of time. The quality of their experience should be assessed, including the number of client-facing house and their technical competence," he said.
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