Class order relief now on the table as FASEA exam bill stalls

15 May 2020

In the wake of the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) exam extension legislation stalling in the Senate, the Government is being asked to back Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) class order relief to achieve the same outcome.

According to Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) general manager, policy and professionalism, Phil Anderson there is no question that ASIC has the powers under the FASEA legislation to deliver that class order relief.

He said the explanatory memorandum around the professional standards bill made the position clear.

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“This clearly sets out that ASIC has exemption powers under Section 926A of the Corporations Act that apply in the case of the professional standards legislation,” Anderson said. “Paragraph 2.53 specifically states that these powers apply to the transitional arrangements for existing advisers (i.e. the exam deadline).  The bill actually amended Section 926A to provide ASIC with powers with respect to the Professional Standards transitional arrangements for existing advisers (Part 10.23A).  Paragraph 2.55 includes the following specific reference: ASIC has used its exemption and modification power to provide administrative relief in circumstances where the strict operation of the Corporations Act produces unintended or unreasonable outcomes.”

“Given the delay in the availability of the FASEA exam, the  Government policy announcement of an extension in August 2019 and the impact of the coronavirus, we can certainly argue that in the absence of an extension, it would result in unintended and unreasonably outcomes,” he said.

Anderson’s claim came at the same time as the Assistant Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and Financial Technology, Senator Jane Hume, placed blame for the exam extension bill not passing the Parliament at the feet of the Opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP).

“At a time when access to quality financial advice is so important to Australians, I am extremely disappointed the passage of this Bill has been frustrated by the Labor Party - in little more than a cheap political stunt,” she said.

“Like so many small Australian businesses, financial planners are feeling the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Many advisers are juggling the addition needs of clients in financial distress, a business operating with social distancing requirements, and increased demands of family.”

Financial planning organisations are now expected to point out to Hume that, just as the Government had done with respect to FASEA code monitoring bodies, the Government should now ask ASIC to issue class order relief with respect to the FASEA exam timetable.



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The adviser associations should only be seeking a 6 month extension to the FASEA exam via ASIC class order. That would correspond to the delay in FASEA originally making the exam available, and would be consistent with allowing advisers 2 years to pass the exam as intended in the original legislation.

If they push for a 12 month extension as per Hume's Bill, they would be asking ASIC to provide more time than originally intended, and to override the (now clear) opposition of Labor. ASIC will never do that.

Stick to 6 months and there may be some hope of success. Ask for 12 and it will be doomed to failure. And forget about any extension to the degree timeframe.

Yet Labor are saying that they tabled the amendments in February?

The behaviour from both sides of Govt in relation to this matter is utterly unacceptable and appalling in the extreme.
If the Govt are hell bent on introducing legislation and regulation that is designed to ensure we are seen as
"professionals" then they need to have a good hard look at themselves in relation to how this matter has been handled.
Not only have financial services been kicked like a football for the last decade, but we are now a political football because these incompetent people have to score points against each other in the middle of an international pandemic.
It is high time the Financial Services Party is formed and we go to Canberra with a very, very strong willed, determined and resolute person who will represent the best interests of not only advisers and their staff, but also their clients who are being negatively effected by over regulation, skyrocketing compliance costs and unnecessary duplication.
What a disgrace this process has now become from both Liberal and Labor.
It shows how little understanding they have and how they are prepared to put their own interests ahead of others.
Representatives of the people, paid by the taxpayer and their behaviour is unacceptable.

I agree, but if we are going to Canberra to fight for our survival, there are more important issues than an exam delay. That's the least of our worries.

Given the plethora of planners hoping to sit on grandfathered commissions for as long as possible, how are we to know the difference between someone milking the system and someone who genuinely intends on moving on with what the profession needs?
I think it's fair to say that anyone who hasn't at least sat the exam has to do so by end of year. They should not just get a free 6 or 12 months to keep getting paid, delivering as little as possible so they can exit the industry and leave the mess for someone else to clean up.
Everyone has had plenty of time, and anyone who hasn't sat the exam yet I have serious questions as to why, why should I who has done the right thing in the time frame, juggled plenty of headaches to get it done, why are your headaches more important? Because a politician promised you something? Really, you trusted the politicians when you are a planner, you should already know better than that...
And for those of you offended by what I am saying, be offended. We will be out of this message faster the faster it's over with. 6 or 12 months of fasea in headlines isn't worth it for any of us who plan to be planner for another 20 or so years.

It should not be extended. There has been enough time to undertake the exam and its highly unprofessional those that have not already completed it. Don't put off to tomorrow what you could do today.... or in this case months ago. Banking on the Government extending it was a silly strategy to begin with.

Confirm if you have already sat and passed the exam.

Just remember there is people out there that we have no idea on the circumstances on why they have not done the exam. i know of one planner who has a very ill child and has for sometime. The burden on that family has seen it that he just has no had the time.

I know of several planners that have been going through terrible times.... They've been working long hours, sometimes juggling multiple jobs and even enrolling in higher education studies. They've been facing immense personal challenges. They've been trying to run businesses, manage staff,.......and they've managed to pass the Ethics course and do the exam as they put their profession in from of their own lives. My thoughts and prayers goes to those if you're house has not burned down,,, or your husband is not pregnant, or the dog didn't die then what's your excuse? Let me guess a 10% discount from the FPA ?

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