Compassion not condemnation for exam candidates: AFA

Compassion should be given to those advisers who have not yet passed the financial adviser exam, according to the AFA’s Phil Anderson, as he called on advisers to help those who had failed.

Speaking at an AFA roadshow in Sydney, Anderson said figures from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) showed there were 882 advisers who had qualified for the exam extension.

While the ASIC figure counted those who had failed the exam twice, some candidates were having to sit it as many as six times before they passed.

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Anderson said: “One thing we want to be clear about is we think a lot of advisers in that category are really good advisers. But they have struggled with the exam and that might be because of mindset issues or exam technique, it doesn’t mean they don’t know their stuff.

“It’s been really challenging and has threatened their self-esteem, they are ashamed they have not passed the exam.

“We see all the comments on the trade media, condemning people for not having passed and I ask that we show some compassion and we help if we know people are struggling with it. You may just be able to help them with their mindset or their exam technique.”

Referencing the Quality of Advice Review, he said he hoped it would achieve a reduction in regulatory uncertainty, regulatory relief and direct action to increase adviser numbers, among others.

Members’ views on the review were mixed with 32% saying they were “mildly optimistic”, 36% “mildly pessimistic” and 20% undecided.

“There are more who were pessimistic than optimistic and that reflects the fatigue we have all gone through. But I really think this is our big chance and I want people to get engaged with the review and to see some blue sky ideas,” Anderson said.




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I have passed my FASEA exam at age 70 and have just completed my course with Kaplan for the Undergrad Degree. The course is labeled " Ethics and Professionalism in Financial Advice". This included 2 assignments making up 60% and an exam, the other 40%. For those not good at examinations and cant pass great option and the course was very similar to the FASEA exam. I was surprised this was not offered by other providers rather than FASEA.

Good point Len. The FASEA exam is based on the content of the 3 "bridging subjects" in ethics, law, and consumer behaviour, which are included in all financial planning degrees now. There should be a FASEA exam exemption for anyone who has successfully completed those 3 subjects either as standalone bridging units or as part of a degree.

Does anyone really believe there is any compassion in the captured regulator, psychopathic banking boards, sycophantic politicians and woke activist brigade whose combined self interest led to all and sundry in this industry to be demonised in the first place?

Having worked in different countries in this industry, unfortunately it is littered with planners who have egos that are out of check. Some of the comments by these planners who perceive themselves to be so intelligent and superior to their lesser mortals such they completed the exam successfully in an hour, it was so simple and similar tales of grandeur that anyone who has not passed the exam is of a lesser being are not part of the solution to creating a professional environment. If after all you claim to be so smart and intellectually superior to most, yet all you managed to achieve was being a financial planner says more about your lack of ability than those who have tried and failed the exam. Pop the egos a little, pack the dark suits, white shirts and red ties in the closet, because after all although you may believe your career requires such astute intellectual ability that you claim to have, sadly it does not and compassion for others and increasing your EQ would be more appropriate. I have passed the exam and must reiterate it has made little difference to my ability to do what i have done before or after.

"It doesn't mean they don't know their stuff". But which stuff Phil? Insurance stuff? Or the law, ethics, and consumer behaviour stuff the exam is about. I'm very happy to extend compassion to people who are genuinely putting in the effort to learn the law, ethics and consumer behaviour stuff.

But I have zero sympathy for advisers who think an exam in law, ethics and consumer behaviour is irrelevant to them, and are demanding to have an insurance exam instead. The FASEA exam, with its multiple attempts and 3 year time window, is designed to ease out those who can't make the transition from product salespeople to advice professionals.

Such BS, The exam is a croc , ambiguous and designed to trip one up. Most multiple choice questions provide probably three correct answers. No one is against exams where they are set by our own people who understand the industry. Some of the comments by anon people smack of jealousy for the advisers that have done well in this industry but no longer there. Perhaps also some sympathy for the thousands of orphaned clients.

I very much agree with displaying empathy towards the disillusioned and demoralised non-passing advisers. I bet they have empathy and compassion towards their clients. Realistically, I can't see any changes to the exam format for the last few sittings.Perhaps Stephen Jones (newly minted minister) might consider a work around for non-passing advisers to do the 3 'bridging subjects' and have them grandfathered as hving passed the exam. Creatively, there is always a solution if one was willing enough to think outside the square,

An associated workaround for the education issue is to allow experienced advisers to meet the degree requirement by completion of a 4 unit Graduate Certificate with those 3 subjects and one other of relevance to their specialty. This would ensure all advisers have a degree, all have training in the professionalism elements, but experienced advisers are not having to learn additional technical content they will never use.

Great Comment Grant P - as an adviser of 40 years who passed the exam first time but with great anxiety and anger at regulators I have been saddened to watch arrogant advisers savage their peers with little understanding or compassion for those who find difficulty with an exam format . I too know many great advisers who are lost to the industry due to the exam - let up

This is an exam designed to trick as opposed to test. Said that dozens of times. Get your head around that and you'll be ok. I'll give you that tip because I'm a compassionate guy.

I can understand how some Advisers are struggling. Yes 10% don't do exams. .That's a well known fact However, too many Advisers also sold out to some large product manufacturers and struggled with the ethics of that for decades. They got rich and I got over regulated... Sad for them, but not losing sleep.

Phil Anderson needs to get on board and tell these advisor to toughen up. At the AFA roadshow, I heard nothing but excuses for advisors who are too scared, overwhelmed, short of time, not use to change - of an exam. All the reasons where why clients use an advisors to manage their finances and personal goals.

So we've got AFA and AIOFP representing insurance salespeople who can't/won't get a professional level of education. We've got FPA selling professional designations to advisers who have never achieved a professional level of education. We've got the SMSF association promoting the use of a largely unnecessary product that is rarely in client's best interests. We've got TAA who are trying to obscure the fact they are actually the AMP aligned advisers association. And we've got Brammall's mob who believe that professionalism and advice quality is simply a function of remuneration method. No wonder regulators and politicians pay scant regard to adviser associations.

If only there was an association for professionally educated advisers who act in clients' best interests.

ASIC sent out letters last week about ARs on FAR who had not passed the exam by end of 2021. One of my ARs had more than 20 years of financial adviser experience, not one client complaint, great with clients, but does not like exams. After reading the ASIC letter, he withdrew his AFS Representative license on Monday. He passed his clients to another adviser. How sayeth distributive justice affecting advisers who had done nothing wrong ?

"Not liking exams" is a pretty pathetic excuse to give away your entire career don't you think?

Whilst I understand the travails of those who have not yet passed the FASEA exam I submit a couple of points;
Anyone whose livelihood is contingent upon passing an exam and who didn't do so during the 2 years (plus) shouldn't be advising others on their financial affairs
Being unwell for 2 years isn't an excuse; if you are unwell for 2 years then how are you well enough to be a reliable, trusted adviser to others?
Risk only advisers are not advisers, they are commission-based salespeople
Stock brokers are not advisers either, for the same reasons as above
If you are over 60 y/o and you haven't got a business succession plan in place then you are unfit to advise anyone else on their financial affairs
Carve-outs just set us back
Finally, we have had a clean out of our industry, let's not let the dross back in
Cheers, Barry

Some tough love there Barry. Believe it or not we're up to 3 years now. The first exam sitting was in June 2019.

Lets face it, it's an exam that none of us should've had to do and has cost the industry millions in lost time for no gain to the end consumer. Worst polocy

I believe the systemic problems that damage us remain a vertically integrated salesforce and the commission paid adviser system. With no will/desire/ability to change these underlying issues a series of kludge fixes in place have been difficult for existing advisers to deal with. That is,

1. A code of ethics with a one-off mandatory exam on that code (and some foundational compliance bits).
2. FOFA and the increasing compliance regimes stemming from it ever since.
3. Higher education standards for existing advisers (albeit not as high as for new entrants).

Of these 3, I can't see how most wouldn't consider the FASEA exam the most minor hurdle to face and one it is time to close a door on. Yes, support the remaining advisers over the line but sympathy? compassion? No, I don't see an especial need for this but nor should there be condemnation or judgement.

There are now lots of resources, courses, classes to assist with the FASEA exam, let that support be there, let these exams play out and let's have September be the deadline and all move on. I say this because I am confident most planners see that the twin problems of an overly burdensome compliance regime and increased education standards for experienced advisers are far more of an issue to overcome and both those issues we face being things that neither add value to clients with a fabulous adviser or protect those clients with an irresponsible adviser.

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