Industry welcomes revised education bill

Industry bodies have welcomed the government's revised bill on new adviser education standards, saying their concerns regarding the first draft have been heard.

Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Small Business Kelly O'Dwyer yesterday released the new bill which shows an extended transition time frame for existing advisers and clarification around the degree requirement.

FPA chief executive Dante De Gori said he was pleased to see the reforms propose a number of "flexible pathways" for existing advisers to achieve degree-equivalent status, as well as being given "sufficient time" to achieve this.

"The new reforms will require existing financial planners to meet stringent education and exam requirements, but do not go so far as to require all existing planners to complete a bachelor's degree," Mr De Gori said.

"The FPA has long been an advocate for raising the professional and educational standards of financial planners, but it is important to recognise that many existing financial planners have training and qualifications of a very high level, as well as years of experience.

"In some cases, these very experienced planners may be exempt from the new exam if their skills, expertise and experience are judged to be of an exceptionally high standard, which we see as a great outcome," he said.

AFA chief executive Brad Fox also welcomed the new bill, saying, "We do not want to lose some of our most experienced advisers from the industry, so we are pleased to see a common sense approach to the new standards has been applied and that our recommendations have been taken on board."

Mr Fox added that the AFA also lobbied for more adviser industry representatives to be included on the standards-setting body.

"We will continue our collaborative policy discussions to raise the professionalism and growth of the advice profession, and improve trust and outcomes for consumers."

Meanwhile, CPA Australia's chief executive Alex Malley praised Ms O'Dwyer for "her willingness to engage with stakeholders during the consultation process."

"In its previous incarnation, the draft bill required a national exam to test for a minimum set of knowledge. We had concerns that this did not recognise the considerable experience and expertise of some already working in the sector," Mr Malley said.

"Enabling the standard-setting body to consider examination exemptions on a case-by-case basis for highly experienced advisers with exceptional skills and qualifications is a common sense outcome."

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