The Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) has called on the Australian Labor Party (ALP) to support the one-year extension for advisers to meet Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) exam requirements by passing the Treasury Laws Amendment (2019 Measures No. 3) Bill in the Senate this week.
As the Government announced this policy in August 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic had led to the closure of Parliament and delayed the debate in the Senate, AFA chief executive, Philip Kewin said advisers sought certainty on the extension.
He noted that due to the virus face-to-face exams had also been cancelled.
“The AFA reminds the Senate that at this stage, fewer than 30% of current advisers have passed the exam, leaving 70% who would be forced to cease providing financial advice if they cannot pass the exam by the end of this year. This leaves the hundreds of thousands of clients of these financial advisers exposed, the same clients who are now increasingly reliant upon their adviser for support and guidance,” he said.
Since social distancing measures ramped up two months ago, Kewin said advisers had been focused on supporting and advising clients as they dealt with the impact of the pandemic, including people who lost their jobs and had their businesses closed.
“We want our members to be focussed on their clients, not only at this critical time, but all the time. The delay in passing this legislation is, however, causing anxiety and having an increasing impact on the mental health of financial advisers,” he said.
Kewin noted that there was previous bi-partisan support for the extension based on an acknowledgement of the delay in the availability of the exam.
“We have now been advised that this bipartisan support has been withdrawn and the ALP wants to include an unrelated amendment that will most likely prevent it being addressed in the Senate this week,” he said.