Debunking FASEA study myths

At Kaplan Professional, we hear a diverse range of thoughts and theories about education and, in particular, the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) exam. At the time of writing, there were six exams scheduled for 2021 in 31 different locations and advisers could also elect to sit the exam remotely online at their preferred time during the exam windows.

The exam deadline for current advisers is 1 January, 2022, while the education standard deadline is 1 January, 2026. These were one and two-year extensions respectively in order to allow advisers to focus on the needs of their clients amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Often some of the commentary we hear around learning and exam study is simply incorrect and requires clarification so this article will hopefully debunk some of these myths. 

These answers are based on our experience of supporting our corporate clients and thousands of financial advisers around the country with the FASEA education requirements. This has helped us to develop a thorough understanding of what it takes to help advisers manage and succeed with their studies. I hope this will provide advisers who are apprehensive or anxious with the confidence they need to make the decisions right for them.

Myth one: I haven’t started studying because the extensions mean I have plenty of time.

What must be remembered is many advisers have to complete a Graduate Diploma, which encompasses eight subjects at the postgraduate level. Many others have five or six subjects to do. 

This is a significant commitment that requires dedication, time and effort to succeed. On average, it takes working advisers undertaking a Graduate Diploma with us approximately three years to complete with a moderate study workload.

It’s in your best interests to make this workload as manageable as you can. The earlier you get started, the more flexibility you have to balance your study with your other commitments. It also provides you more control over your pathway – you can adapt your study to suit your schedule and spread it out over a longer period.

Work and family pressures are factors that will always need to be considered. What happens if something arises and you don’t have the capacity to study for a significant amount of time? You don’t want the weight of the requirements hanging over you for another four years or so. 

This is well summed up by one adviser who expressed, “there’s always a reason to delay until the next study period. Unfortunately, this can lead to further stress down the track or even a reason to give up. Being proactive and starting early means you can spread the time, commitment and energy over years, rather than months”.

Myth two: I’ve seen reports about it costing over $3,000 for a subject and that these costs will only increase as a result of Government policy. 

Advisers are only required to pay for the subjects they’ve enrolled into each study period. As you can pay on a subject-to-subject basis, you don’t have to worry about committing to the cost of a whole qualification in one go. 

Many eligible advisers choose to use HECS-HELP or FEE-HELP, which are Commonwealth Government loan schemes that help pay for part or all of tuition fees. This means you don’t have to pay upfront to study. HECS-HELP supports students studying at public universities – and some private institutions – subsidised by the Government, while FEE-HELP supports providers not subsidised by the Government.

Myth three: I’d never be able to go back and study now. It’s been too long, or I haven’t been to university before.

There’s no avoiding the fact that, yes, it will be a challenge. But it’s one we’ve always believed advisers could meet if we really worked hard to support them. Having now had thousands of advisers who hadn’t studied at this level or for a long time, this is being proved correct. Advisers generally have an inherently strong understanding of the subject content. If we can work with them on the requirements needed to effectively study at this level, they succeed.

Three elements we have found are crucial to an adviser’s success are proactive planning, personalised support and flexible learning. 

As well as the financial modules, consider a course that can teach you strategies to build your confidence with assessment preparation, motivation, technology and time management as these are necessary skills if you are new or returning to study. There are also forums and discussion groups where advisers and tutors share tips on study scheduling and assessment tasks.

Myth four: I’m worried about online study but don’t have the time to go to lectures.

Online education is new for many and it takes some getting used to. Once you get into your groove, you’ll realise how convenient and flexible it is. You don’t have to worry about travel or scheduling your day around attending lectures and classes at a campus. You study how and when you want. You have access to recorded lectures, course materials and support resources at your fingertips. An example would be parents who use online learning during evenings and weekends to fit their study around work and childcare. 

Some people think online learning lacks interaction because there’s no face-to-face component but enhancements have enabled providers to hold online classes in real time.

This has significantly increased a sense of belonging, connection and engagement among advisers.

You can even sit your exams from home. There’s a lot of debate about online proctored exams, but the reality is they provide you with a familiar and comfortable environment to perform at your best, while eliminating factors that heighten anxiety and nervousness such as travel and crowded exam centres. 

Myth five: I’ve heard there are shortcuts or easier ways to do this.

We always advise caution with offerings such as challenge tests or intensives. While these might appear to be an ideal option for a time-poor adviser who wants to complete a subject quickly, there’s a lot more to these once you begin to scratch below the surface. You really need to investigate what you’re getting out of it and how much it costs – both time wise and financially. The amount of days advertised is just the length of the in-class activities. You’re expected to complete significant readings and multiple assessments. This is a heavy workload for an incredibly short period of time.

With a robust plan, dedicated support, complete flexibility and comprehensive content, you’ll realise there’s no real need for these gimmicks. You’ll actually want to put in the work over a whole study period because it will be much more valuable and rewarding. Taking the time to complete the readings, activities and assessments in detail can help you gain substantial understanding and knowledge.

Myth six: You don’t need to study to pass the exam.

That may be the case for some advisers, but everyone’s different. Almost half of advisers resitting the FASEA exam fail a second time too. Advisers who haven’t studied or sat a lengthy exam in a while often complete one or more of the bridging courses before they attempt the FASEA exam. These subjects cover core content assessed in the FASEA exam, so it helps advisers reinforce knowledge and build their confidence. Completing a practice exam or an ethics course beforehand, for example, can help you be in a confident state of mind. 

Final Thoughts

Don't listen to everything you hear. Take the time to ask the questions you need to. Join a return to study information session and look at the subject matter and the assessments. Don’t leave it to the last minute; you’ll benefit if you start sooner rather than later.  

Brian Knight is chief executive of Kaplan Professional.

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Heres the only truth you need: Doing this additional study is going to cost adviaers with f'all benefit to the client. Call it what it is - retrospective education is a joke and isn't required in similar industries such as accounting, mortgage broking etc

Have just endured the FARSEA Ethics course it’s a mind numbing wasteful Unethical process.
Having to fight Kaplan to remark Assignment tasks that were given identical generic comments and marks, they don’t even bother to Mark your work properly and want to be paid for a remark.
The whole Ethics course should be 30 hrs not the BS padded out 120 hrs of extra reading, repetitive questions in assignments and exam.
Overall Kaplan and FARSEA both completely fail Diligence and Ethics.
Sadly FARSEA and Kaplan are the gatekeepers to us Advisers keeping our jobs and promoting so called Ethics and education.
FARSEA and Kaplan both FAIL !!!!
FARSEA an Unethical $1 billion Adviser time and cost TAX.

Did you fail?

But you will Hedware

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