Govt releases updated adviser education draft

The government has released revised draft legislation on new adviser education standards, which shows changes to the time frame existing advisers will have to meet the proposed standards as well as the bachelor's degree requirement.

Noted in a statement from Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer, changes to the draft include clarification that the reforms "are not intended to require existing advisers to complete a bachelor's degree".

"Existing advisers will be required to reach degree equivalent status, which can be achieved via a number of flexible pathways, including by completing bridging courses approved by the new standards body," Ms O'Dwyer said.

The new draft also extends the transition time frame from 2019 to 2024.

"We recognise that existing advisers will need to balance any further education requirements with the demands of continuing to provide high-quality financial advice to their clients. Existing advisers therefore need sufficient time to meet the new standards," Ms O'Dwyer said.

"The education and exam requirements are proposed to commence on 1 January 2019 (revised from 1 July 2017). Existing advisers will have until 1 January 2024 (5 years) to reach degree equivalent status and until 1 January 2021 (2 years) to pass the exam."

As for the independent, standards-setting body, Ms O'Dwyer said it will initially be a Commonwealth company. The government is also considering allowing the body to recognise adviser experience.

"The government will seek views on whether the standards body should have the power to exempt, on a case-by-case basis, existing advisers from the requirement to pass the exam. This exemption is intended to be reserved for highly experienced advisers with exceptional skills and qualifications," she said.

"These reforms will raise minimum standards in the financial advice industry and improve public confidence in the sector, whilst acknowledging the skills and expertise of existing advisers."

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