Union urges common sense approach to advice education

The key trade union for financial services has said it will lobby government for better industry-wide recognition of educational qualifications, as well as continuing to work with lawmakers for more relief around FASEA obligations.

Finance Sector Union assistant national secretary Nathan Rees told ifa that with many Australians facing unemployment and exploring the option of early super access, there had “never been a more important time for Australians to have access to quality, professional and ethical advice”.

As such, a key priority for the union, which had seen advice industry members grow as a result of an AIOFP campaign ahead of the 2019 election, was to ensure quality practitioners were not forced to leave the industry due to a lack of recognition of educational qualifications, Mr Rees said.

“We have been successful in pointing out necessary remedies for some of the FASEA structures, and we will continue to work with policy makers to these ends,” he said. 

“Australia cannot afford a situation whereby ordinary Australians cannot access good advice because a poorly implemented policy has forced thousands of advisers to vacate the field. This is a textbook unintended consequence.”

Mr Rees said the FSU was also advocating better portability of qualifications across the myriad systems and designations available in the financial services industry, by way of a single body that assessed the suitability of educational offerings.

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“The skills and experience of those that work in the sector are a national asset to be recognised, built on, and drawn upon,” he said.

“For this to work successfully, there needs to be a scheme of skills and experience accreditation that provides for portable qualifications recognised right across the sector. 

“We want to see this scheme overseen by a tripartite government/industry/employee body that does periodic skills audits of the sector and the landscape ahead, in order to make sure that finance sector workers are well placed for the jobs of the future.”

In addition, Mr Rees said the union was supportive of government incentives to improve advice accessibility, which could potentially take the form of tax deductible advice fees.

“Australia’s superannuation is mandatory, and employees don’t have discretion over whether they’re in a scheme or not. Consequently, it follows that governments should make explicit provision for quality financial advice at that point in a worker’s life when they need to plan their future,” he said.

“Access to professional advice should be the right of every Australian, just like healthcare or education. A logical extension of this view is that there should be strong consideration by government to providing tax deductibility for the cost of advice, under appropriate regulation.”

Union urges common sense approach to advice education
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