Call to extend transition to planner degrees

The transition period being proposed by the Federal Government for financial planners to meet new, degree level educational qualifications may not be long enough and may need to be extended, according to the Association of Superannuation funds of Australia (ASFA).

In a submission responding to the Treasury's discussion paper on legislation lifting the professional, ethical and education standards of the financial services industry, ASFA chief executive, Pauline Vamos has pointed to the difficulties likely to be encountered by planners in meeting the Government's proposed time-frames.

"Noting the experience of many existing financial advisers and the fact that they will need to pass an exam set by the standards body before 1 July 2019, in order to avoid potentially unnecessary and disruptive training, we submit that the appropriate qualification level for existing advisers should be set at AQF 6 in line with the Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning rather than AQF 7 being an undergraduate degree," the submission said.

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It said if such a position were not adopted the transition period for existing financial planners, ending on 1 July, 2019, might not be long enough.

"Courses are expected to be available from 2017," it said. "A two-year period may not be enough for people to top up their education to a degree equivalent qualification on a part-time basis. This is an important issue since if an adviser fails to qualify by 2019 they are no longer eligible for transition and would need to go through the whole education and training process (including a degree or equivalent and a professional year)".

The submission noted that the degree requirements remained unspecified and that the proposed standards body had not even been established and a bachelor degree took three to four years to complete.

"There does not seem adequate time for advisers to become qualified," it said. "We submit that the commencement date for requiring the relevant qualification be moved out to three years after the date the standards body approves the qualification."

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