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FASEA clarifies loophole for exam-shy advisers

FASEA has confirmed advisers on a career break at 1 January can take the industry exam later than the compliance deadline and return to the industry without restarting the education process, but suggested the potential for further transitional relief around the exam may lie with ASIC.

Following recent comments from the standards authority’s chief executive Stephen Glenfield at a parliamentary committee that suggested existing advisers who were ceased on the ASIC register at the end of the year could take the exam at a later date, FASEA has clarified the comments relate to a legislative instrument that provides for advisers on a career break.

“Pursuant to ASIC Corporations (Professional Standards—Transitional) Instrument 2018/894 which amends section 1546B of the Corporations Act providing provision for existing relevant providers on a career break – ie ceased on the ASIC’s Financial Adviser Register before 1 January 2022 – existing relevant providers on a career break must pass the exam before they are eligible to be reauthorised to provide financial advice by the licensee,” a spokesperson for the authority said.

The legislative instrument amends the relevant section of the act so that it applies to all existing providers that are relevant providers immediately before the exam deadline date, rather than all existing providers.

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The frequently asked questions section of the FASEA website also notes that “there are provisions for existing advisers to take a ‘career break’ and then return to the industry” and if the adviser’s leave takes them past 1 January 2022, “the adviser will need to have passed the exam and completed the education requirements prior to being re-authorised to provide advice”, rather than starting again as a new entrant.

The authority noted registrations had swelled for its July exam sitting, with over 2,000 advisers now booked for the session.

The comments come following the AFA raising concerns around transitional arrangements for the significant proportion of the industry who may not scrape through the compliance deadline, with 35 per cent of the adviser register yet to pass the exam.

While the association’s chief executive Phil Anderson had suggested that transitional relief may be warranted to allow affected advisers to “exit their business in a graceful way”, FASEA said this was not in its purview, with the corporate regulator set to take over administration of the exam from next year.

“FASEA’s functions under the Corporations Act are limited to setting the exam. FASEA has no power to provide transitional relief under the Corporations Act,” the spokesperson said.

“Under draft legislation which has been released by government for public consultation, ASIC will be responsible for the ongoing administration of the exam and queries should be directed to ASIC.”

FASEA clarifies loophole for exam-shy advisers
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