The FASEA extension bill has finally passed Parliament this morning after Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick backed down on an amendment the Senate previously insisted on.
In this morning's Senate session, Mr Patrick said he was withdrawing the amendment – which related to grandfathered large proprietary companies – because there was "urgent need for financial advisers to be relieved in terms of their requirements for professional qualifications".
"I will indicate to the chamber however that the cross-bench, Greens and Labor are quite determined to deal with this issue," Mr Patrick said.
"We cannot have a privileged class of companies where there is one rule for certain companies and another for all others."
In an email to AIOFP executive chairman Peter Johnston, Mr Patrick apologised for the "angst" the last minute amendment had caused.
"I appreciate this politicking has caused some angst within your industry and I apologise for that angst," Mr Patrick said.
"Everyone that contacted my office were supportive of what we were doing, just not the way we were doing it."
Mr Patrick said the grandfathering amendment had now been attached to a separate Treasury omnibus bill so it did not delay the FASEA extension further.
In the Senate, One Nation's Malcolm Roberts echoed Mr Patrick's comments that the party would support the amendment in the subsequent bill.
"One Nation will be supporting what Senator Patrick said in the future – we see this amendment as very important for the country," Mr Roberts said.
The government's motion that the Senate not insist on the amendment was supported by a majority of the upper house. Shortly after, the bill returned to the House of Representatives where it was passed by a majority of MPs.
ifa understands the adviser associations had been lobbying Mr Roberts overnight to support the removal of the amendment.
Stockbrokers and Financial Advisers Association chief executive Judith Fox welcomed the passage of the bill, while pointing out that its rough transition through Parliament had been extremely stressful for advisers.
"At a time when investment advisers were experiencing a huge increase in workload dealing with client enquiries during the current market turmoil, which made study and exam sitting particularly difficult, the constant threats to the extension being achieved this year added significant pressure," Ms Fox said.
FPA chief executive Dante De Gori said the passage of the bill was "a victory for members".
"This bill is a lifeline for financial planners across Australia and will grant them the necessary extension to complete new education requirements at a time when they are out in our communities providing advice to Australians during COVID-19," Mr De Gori said.
"Today’s announcement will provide some relief to planners who are struggling to support not only existing clients but also providing the broader community with advice as many Australians find themselves in a financial situation they have never experienced before."
FSC chief executive Sally Loane also welcomed the extension, saying it gave advisers the necessary time to meet the standards.
"Allowing advisers the time to sit the exam and meet the strengthened requirements will continue to build trust in financial services as it contributes to our economic recovery, while encouraging future generations to join the profession," Ms Loane said.
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