Has the Govt gone too far with education pathway proposal?

While the Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) believes the Government’s proposal to amend the adviser education pathway is a good thing, it is on the fence about whether the proposal had “gone too far”.

AFA chief executive, Phil Anderson, said the association was pleased the government made the decision to review the education standard and that it had sought feedback from its members that had so far seen a “mixed bag” of reactions.

Anderson said it was a mix of those who were supportive and those who had reasons to disagree with parts of the proposal.

At the end of 2021, the Government proposed an “experience pathway” that would allow financial advisers who had 10 years or more of fulltime experience in the last 12 years to only complete a tertiary level unit on the code of ethics to continue providing advice.

“There are concerns about whether it's going to undermine the recognition of financial advice as a profession. There are people who've already done the study as they were required to do so who feel this is unfair,” he said.

“The issue is whether they've gone too far with requiring someone to do just one subject and if that will undermine confidence in advice, recognition of advice as a profession.

“With the qualification pathway, it's whether that ensures that people have done study in an area that is most relevant and what does it mean for new advisers who are looking to come into financial advice over the next few years.”

Anderson said these were really critical policy matters and that the association was considering feedback from its members and what was in the long-term best interest of financial advice as a profession.

“We're pleased that they have put a proposal on the table where they are going to better recognise experience,” he said.

“The question is whether going from eight subjects to one subject for people who've got 10 years of experience as at the first of January, 2026, is going too far. If it was accepted that it's going too far then what is the right compromise or the right balance?”

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Well done AFA. It's a kick in the guts to all advisers that knuckled down and got this out of the way. 10 years is a joke, I've been doing this for 30+ years and am still learning. The things I've picked up with my studies (6 Grad Dip, 2 credited for the old 8 topic DFP) have been priceless in my better understanding of my clients. This isn't about competence, that must be assumed already if you've made it this far. This is about a deeper understanding of biases, ethics and our responsibilities to our clients beyond legislation.
The Government is on the ropes and changing the education now not only doesn't help the retiring advisers many of which have already exited, but will alienate the ones who have committed to look forward and keep the wheels turning.

The problem is Duke, that many of us voluntarily made the decision to do higher education a long time ago, and completed far superior courses to the narrow range of FASEA approved money spinners offered by glorified TAFEs. We then kept our skills and knowledge relevant and up to date through hundreds of hours of accredited CPD. However we have been denied recognition for our significant prior education. This was never the intention of the FASEA legislation. It was an abuse of power by the conflicted FASEA Board.

BTW we also did further self directed study in regulation, the FASEA Code, and behavioural finance, and passed the FASEA exam early on at first attempt. Once you have completed a good quality degree, you master the skills to effectively study new work related content without the need to complete yet another degree.

If the 10 year experience exemption prevents highly educated advisers from being unfairly forced back to uni again, then I really don't care if a few undereducated life agents sneak through at the same time.

for the record, could you please state the "far superior" course you completed, and the date of completion of said course, for all of us glorified TAFE graduates to behold and be in a trance about?

let's see your glorious degree. we wait with hushed anticipation.

Cheers MM, Duke, Bozo and let’s not forget Hedware, some decent banter.
I really couldn’t give a crap anymore :-/
So much BS, so many issues, so much wasted time on BS compliance.
I’ve got all the Quals & experience but can’t be bothered commenting.
Enjoy to ride, I’m off to work a decent bit for great clients and continue to surf a lot.
This industry, the Pollies, the banks, the bureaucrats and the so called consumer groups are more f##Ked than can be fixed.
I’ll carry on doing the right thing, as most Advisers do and block the BS.
Hopefully in about 5 years time some sense prevails.
What a freaking Sh##Show Frydenberg has created.

Standing applause Ben, superbly put. I hope you continue on for many years mate!

Not fair….
I don’t think it’s fair that many advisers have been organised and have been studying for years to lift their skills and to make our industry finally a professional one and now all the slacker advisers who have kept putting it off hoping for a miracle now only need to do one subject. I have certainly gained some wonderful new skills after more than 30 years in the industry! You are never too old to learn and we just need to keep growing our skills no matter what our age is.

I would have assumed that ten thousand Advisers leaving the Industry in disgust and the supposed cure of more and more compliance, red tape, increased costs for Advice practices and all Australians now paying double for Life and Disability Insurance premiums and substantially more in fees, making advice unobtainable for millions of Australians, would have been an indication that the cure was worse than the illness.

Only vested interest theorists with little practical experience and no idea or care for the chaos that has been caused by idealistic intellectual mumbo jumbo who pushed their own agenda's which has led to this fiasco, would dare to make such inane commentary and to denigrate experience as some form of intellectual incapacity.

Not only is it not fair, but it is a step backward from moving our industry to a profession.
While I do agree some concession should be made for experience, dropping the need for a degree is a joke. Also more degrees that advisers currently have should also be recognised, we shouldn’t be saying that experience is equal to education though because they are completely different things and hold weight in completely different ways.

The educational requirements should not be amended further, the line in the sand has already been extended till 1st January 2026 and that's plenty of time to study as required or choose to step down. I have over 28 years of experience and over the past 18mths, have completed a Grad Dip to a GPA7 level whilst like many others whilst running a business, family and experiencing other challenges (poor health, licensee change, renovated two properties and more). Challenging was an understatement, yet as a believer in lifelong learning, I learned a lot from it. The respect gained from other professionals and clients has elevated to another level. The financial planning industry has evolved from varied backgrounds and qualifications to date, completing the existing education requirements by 1/1/2026 is imperative to become Australia's newest profession.

I have lost all sympathy for "older" advisers who haven't completed their education after the AIOFP comments last year regarding "elitist young advisers". If you can't complete your studies by 2026, you don't belong in our industry, your time is up and move on! I'm glad the AFA is stating its reservations on this matter.

Mixed bag. I've got 25+ years, have diligently done excess CPD every year and bit the bullet and now only have 2 more subjects to go to meet the requirements.

While part of me would love to drop that only to one, I know regardless of the 3 ethics subjects already done,
(ethics subject imposed on us, FASEA, then yet another via the education provider), I couldn't stomach yet another (which of course they would dictate as mandatory), especially when it is apparent that the politicians and regulators themselves have no concept or capability of ethical behaviour.

You cannot have an industry that is "semi-professional". It is either professional or not.

precisely. a profession requires a body of knowledge specific to its domain. let's not be silly. this is a once in a generation opportunity to fix.

let's get on with the job and finish what is a relatively easy hurdle of grad dip fp. trust me, if you are experienced you will not struggle one bit, not one bit. it just needs a little bit of time researching there is plenty of help. just ask for help, I and many others will willingly oblige to help you with your study and assignments for free (we won't do it for you but will help you with it). just post your details here we will all help.

you can do it, do it for your professional peers and for yourselves. if you complete it I guarantee you will learn a lot, consolidate your knowledge and be proud of yourself afterward. JUST DO IT!

stick with the higher education standard. no grandfathering, we don't want to be like the Accountants who have nearly 20,000 grandfathered without a degree. many of these grandfathered accountants hold a limited afsl (for smsf) or are an AR with limited authority for smsf are getting caught out by the FASEA standards for the first time.

so NO to accountants sneaking in twice.

I take offence to Anna's & Duke's comments. Do you guys really understand additional units doesn't always translate towards making a person a better, ethical financial planner. Maybe the 10 years experience should read 15, but at the end of the day we are taking about peoples livelihoods and wellbeing. You guys wouldn't never know the stress & personal position of every good hearted financial planner out there, so don't place your individual education belief's on others. Take care.

certainly no offense is intended either by myself nor, I'd be certain, by Anna. Reaching my 32nd year in a few months and being self employed the entire period and self licensed for a number of years, I know more about stress and pressure than many people. I had anxiety sitting that bloody FASEA exam as I haven't sat an exam for 20 years, thinking that failure would destroy something I've spent 30 years building. Sat the first one and passed with great relief. Wrote to my member of parliament pointing out in my opinion it is a crime to expect planners who have done nothing wrong to go through this process with a gun held to their heads. But knowing my opinion matters little, instead of lamenting i kept going with running an AFSL, being the senior planner and getting the Grad Dip 6 topics done in 12 months. Not because I'm smart (I never finished high school) but because I continued to feel the bullseye on my back. I have also fielded my share of suicide calls from colleagues and helped where I could. all that effort was for nought if we now get a rollback in the 11th hour. I have to believe this was all for some greater purpose even if I don't agree with it. And please bear in mind Charz, this is only one person's opinion.

Agree with you 'Duke'. Felt the same about the FASEA exam. I didn't mind studying the Ethics bridging course and actually learnt something along the way. I took it seriously. as evidenced by my "HD" result and in preparation for the FASEA exam. Now the FASEA exam left me hollow, angry & anxious, and I resented it. I honestly didn't know how I went (despite significant preparation), I thought I was borderline, but I passed (but I'll never know by how much). The wording of some of the questions was appalling and in my exam, there was at least 2 mistakes. Thank God FASEA and their conflicted Board members (we know who you are) are gone!!

I think the experience pathway should perhaps only be open to those who are say 55 or over, and with longer than 10 years and with a CPD history at least, and some other types of qualifications. And, an unblemished compliance record and perhaps having to be interviewed by a professional association representative or like.

Agree - so not fair!! I thought the whole point was to rid the industry of these slackers so we can finally have a profession. If these older advisers already have the knowledge then the education requirements should be easy for them. Cost shouldn't be a concern as if they're in the tail end of their careers, they should either have the funds to pay for it or be able to hecs it up for the rest of their life. I already think it is a joke that you are giving those who failed FASEA by the deadline another chance. If these advisers take their careers seriously and actually care about ensuring they have the expertise to competently help their clients, then they should have no problem putting in the effort to meet these standards well before the due date - there was ample time. As this rate we will stay an industry full of cowboys and slackers continually attracting bad press and more red tape forever. Come on guys, stick to your word - your original word!

What an insult to the hard working, knowledgeable & ethical adviser who may struggle sitting an exam, especially the FASEA exam & the overall anxiety which this may have on them both physically & mentally. I'm no 'slacker' having failed once and then finally passed at the last FASEA Exam sitting. You need to appreciate we are all at different stages in our life position and having a higher education status doesn't always make you a better adviser, because 'ethics' is a built in trait for an individual. No doubt continual learning during the year, via the CPD systems, can be directed towards improving oneself with their particular knowledge gaps and towards better advice outcomes for their client.

being a professional is hard. no one said it was easy, being a professional requires great sacrifice, often there are not enough rewards financially or otherwise, but the work we do is noble, we help clients manage their most important resources. do you want to do that or not?

personal problems are personal problems each to their own ( i have a young family I rarely get a good night's sleep because I am the primary carer (male) I have to wake up and then get up and go to work still the next day). everyone has them and we have to deal with them ourselves. it's not an excuse and cannot be.

the question is whether we want to be a profession or not. WE DO so let's get with the times.

if you don't want to be a professional then you don't have to be, we can't make you or force you, but a small minority cannot hold the majority as hostages.

the vast majority of financial planners have spoken, they either already hold post-grad education or want to hold them.

so if you don't want to do further study you are in the minority.

this is a democracy after all. I also don't like moronsen he is still the prime minister.

if you don't like the terms and conditions of being a professional financial planner today (which may again change tomorrow) please leave.

thank you, and best regards.

So lets translate what the AFA are saying.
They are prepared to do their advocating for the minority that want to be called professional but don't want to meet the qualifications to be professional. and not represent the interests of those who have met the professional qualifications and done the hard work, and are professional.

Which group are meeting best interest in professionalism?

I applaud all of those who are embracing the education and realising the benefits rather than complaining that they ‘already know everything’. I must say in my 15 years, I have worked with many 30 plus year veterans who would no doubt benefit from further education. Those that do not want to improve their quality are doing a disservice to their clients and the industry. They need to go. Mandate it. No free rides.

Does the FPA have a view.....their silence is deafening

awaiting instructions from their Masters

we have a new CEO at the FPA who won't be beholden to any masters trust me.

financial planning is on its journey to becoming a profession. we are throwing our shackles off.

the entire world is watching us as we set the highest standard to practice as financial planners. they are watching us the world over, in the united states, in Canada, and across the developing world as a model for them to follow.

here is our chance to be #1. to be the world's best. this is a once in a lifetime opportunity let's not muck it up.

It will be interesting with the new FPA CEO, looking at the financial planning business she was CEO of, I can see vertical integration with some internally managed funds ( fund of funds) with a fee and a performance fee on top. I'll be interested to hear her views on conflict of interest management.

so where is this CEO?
Will they make a statement on the FPA's position?

I struggle to believe that, given the number of Advisers working with firms like AwareSuper and Hesta, TelstraSuper and their past history. That they represent you (solely) ....to quote them, they represent the "industry" and that includes both AMP and AMP Advisers and they have conflicting needs and some would say Hesta/AwareSuper AMP and the Barefoot Adviser are big enough to represent themselves.

new CEO won't change that as it's at the board level.

A degree doesn't make someone a good planner. Education doesn't teach empathy and the soft skills that are necessary to fully engage with clients. You also cant teach someone to be ethical. it is a choice!

obtaining a degree is not the definitive guide to success in financial planning or for anything else in life. it is the minimum standard to be a profession though.

ethics can be taught, see "can ethics be taught?" https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3457588

Abstract :

"Comparing advisers with the same employer in the same location and year, we find those passing the exam with more rules and ethics coverage are one-fourth less likely to commit misconduct. The exam change appears to affect advisers’ perception of acceptable conduct and not just their awareness of specific rules or selection into the qualification"

What is the benefit for those of us who have put in the hard work and paid for degrees to be FASEA compliant? Will we get some type of recognition? I have over 20 years of experience but I got stuck in and it was a really hard slog! Totally unfair!!!!!

Agree Sophie, if any Gov rolls back the requirements then some compensation of course fees, time off work etc should be paid to those of us who did the right thing... but I am not holding my breath!

at the end of the day, it's' about more than just the individual financial planner, it's about the trust and confidence of the public, the regulators, government, all and sundry, and the forging of a community of professional financial planners.

we cannot be a profession without a minimum degree requirement. period. I don't want to be like the accountants who have grandfathered 20,000 practicing accountants without a degree.

ask yourself, do you want to be like an accountant without a degree (secretly ashamed)? or are we better than them. time to show everyone your mettle.

we are better. just do it. post on here if you are struggling with your assignment or exam we will all chip in for the betterment of our profession. we will all help you get there. you are not alone.

this is a once in a generation opportunity to carve our place as a profession and establish a moral high ground against accountants and everyone else otherwise accept your fate to be cast aspersions upon for your entire working life.

are sick of it? let's join together and complete a measly grad dip and not be like the grandfathered accountants which number some 20,000 (without a degree).

A number of these comments sadden me. Part of a professional code is to be steadfast in your support of others in your profession. Part of that support is empathy. Yet time and again, comments on articles reek of personal attacks, fallacies and bias.

The original education pathways were set too tight. They were set in an environment about as hostile to the broad financial planner community as you could imagine. They did not recognise sufficient prior degrees or learning. They discounted experience completely. This was a conscious decision and failed to take advantage of the legislative scope for meaningful experience credits for an industry moving to a profession.

There is room to fix these initial persecutory decisions. The question is how to balance a degree-based standard with a fair transition pathway.

A little more compassion and a lot less grandstanding by "professionals" would go a long way to establishing a middle ground.

I am relieved to see the Government finally attempt to put genuine effort into the sustainability of financial planning. There is a lot more work and negotiation and consultation required but it's a start.

Nice work Michael - empathy!!. Thanks for your commonsense points.

thanks for your input, Michael. It depends on everyone's personal position on how they interpret the comments.

from the comments above, it seems abundant to me that those who have completed a post-grad degree and passed the fasea exam prefer a higher education standard and support the evolution of our industry into a "profession".

those who have not, seem to want to rely on their experience as they are professionally minded (that's not a professional).

for someone who has completed the fasea exam and a grad dip fin plan or m.fin plan to say they support higher education standards is not unprofessional. whatever personal issues we have, we have them all, we have to overcome adversity to become professional. it's as simple as that. everyone else does it, doctors, lawyers, etc.

there are many very professional people in financial planning. but we are an industry and not a "profession" and these educational reforms are going to help us become a profession, which is very worthwhile doing because it comes with many privileges (self-governance, recognition, status, trust of the public, regulators, etc list is not exhaustive).

a profession has 5 intrinsic elements (see Greenwood E.*) ;

1. A systematic body of theory or knowledge
2. Authority and credibility
3. Community sanction, or regulation and control of its members
4. Code of ethics
5. Professional culture, or culture of values, norms, and symbols.

therefore, we need to have as a minimum a post-graduate degree. let's not let a measly grad dip get in the way. we have every other element covered.

*Greenwood, E. ‘Attributes of a Profession, Social Work 2, 1957, pp.44-55.

Thanks for your support. I just really can't be bothered about doing any further study, I don't care about whether you have a Degree or not, cause as far as consumers go it's buyers beware, I certainly don't care about how we're perceived by legislators as it's all about me. I just put my head down and worry about me... I don't care that consumers still think Financial Planners are like a Fart in a small room. I've got my DFP 1-4 and that should be sufficient. When a lot of planners were doing the study, I said stuff it and spent the time on a vacation. Thanks for sticking up for me. Cause it's all about Me.

Satirical comment?

I'm still scratching my head as to why the completion of an university ethics subject is required, post advisers passing a FASEA etics exam inorder to continue advising. It sounds a bit backward to me, that after passing the exam, you have to go back and study the subject again?

One could also ask why FASEA mandated CPD requires more ongoing study of ethics than it does for superannuation or investments or tax - even though these areas change far more frequently than ethical theory.

Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that one of the primary financial beneficiaries from the forced purchase of all these extra ethics courses is a FASEA Board member.

the ethics subject covers ethics broadly and assists practitioners to develop an ethical mindset and implement an ethical framework for professional practice.

the fasea exam tests, Financial Advice Regulatory and Legal Obligation (including Corporation Act Chapter 7, AML, Privacy, and Tax Agents Services Act (TASA) 2009 two distinct but intertwined areas of learning required for professional practice as a professional Financial Planner.

I did the ethics subject, which was the 4th ethics subject I have had to do over the course of studying for other degrees I hold, it was a good refresher, I learned a lot, for example, ethical fading a concept I had not studied in depth previously.

there is a lot to learn if you don't begrudge it and do it, all in the attitude and believe it or not, does make you more ethical (see Kowaleski et al "Can ethics be taught? " https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3457588

source: Klement, Joachim CFA 26/02/2020

Meanwhile, it adds another distraction and reulatory layer to the lives of adviser and their clients, whilst validating advisers arguments to increase advice fees. So I'm still left scrathing my head regarding the ethics of all this..

but you are only looking at the near term, in the short, medium and long term, if we have the highest financial planning standards in the world we will be able to start rolling back some of the regulations, become self-governing, apply for a PI scheme with limited liability, get rid of the dealer group nonsense and be individually registered as a professional financial adviser. do you want this or not.

I CANNOT do it alone. I need your help. help me help you!!!

so please watch this ..... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mzfc9rjow9g

Good points made

The reality is that money has and always will, flow to where it receives the greatest value.
I applaud you for your ultraism, however if your ultraism forces the large number of already ethical advisers out of the market, by sending both them and their clients broke in the attempt to attain this vison, it hurts, not helps everyone.

What we have is a group of people that want all the trappings of professionalism but don't want to do the qualifications to get there.
As an example, the FPA has many designations including the CFP which advisers did the study and received or got it the quick way when that option was available.
This is how I received it but have since done the study and achieved Masters. (over 60, no previous degree with 35 years experience).
But regardless any member can call themselves a member of the FPA.
It has a constant struggle to promote the CFP because its trying to appease all members.
That is why the FPA is only an industry association like the AFA and the other one.

So if these bodies were genuine in professionalism, why haven't they made membership on the following criteria:

1...Passed the Fasea exam
2...Met the education requirements.

Only then will we each know who who is who and more importantly so will the consumer.
Maybe PI for the professional group may come down and maybe the red tape.
Hell, these professional bodies may even qualify for a Professional Scheme that limits liability (same as accountants, lawyers etc) which they can't at the moment because of their lowest common denominator approach and mixed bag of memberships.

Maybe the simplest answer to all this is to have a ASIC two tiered designation regime (yes more paperwork), professional for meeting the above criteria, or non professional for not meeting the education, but sorts everyone out and then the associations can clamor for the membership and more importantly the consumer will know.

Cue the usual outrage from I have xx number of years experience and know more than anyone else so I don't need a piece of paper but am professional, brigade.

as a true CFP(r), that is, one who passed the CFP(r) coursework and exam, fasea exam, and a master's degree holder like you, I think the FPA (finally) is moving in the right direction.

the FPA just needs to get rid of the professional partner program, and the grandfathered CFP's. I think the grandfathered CFP's should just be demoted to a member status with no designation(s) unless they hold an accredited degree and if so they can be designated an AFP(r).

I know a lot of accountants who haven't a clue are grandfathered CFP's promoting the value of the CFP(r) which is ironic, to say the least.

oh, and for experience, it does count just as long as it is combined with an accredited degree relevant to the practice as a professional financial planner.

name one other profession (other than accountants*) doing the same high status, high valued, noble work like a professional financial planner who does not require a degree.

*according to the joint accounting bodies CPA/CAANZ/IPA there are approximately 20,000 practicing accountants in Australia who are grandfathered and do not hold an accredited relevant degree. the number could be as low as 18,000.

"the FPA just needs to get rid of the professional partner program, and the grandfathered CFP's. I think the grandfathered CFP's should just be demoted to a member status with no designation(s) unless they hold an accredited degree and if so they can be designated an AFP(r)."

Agree whole heartily...

If only you or someone like you was in charge of ASIC or dictating Gov policy around 4 years ago! Most common sense approach I have heard.

Though personally I am happy to keep it all as is. Like yourself, I have done the requirements even though I have 27+ yrs experience and owner in a very profitable well placed business, but quietly would be happy for the current crop of non-copers to drop off their perch and give up as it means enhanced profitability and choice of increasingly better clients as the demand/supply curve bends progressively more our way in complete synchronisation with the demographic age line and flood of wealthed-up baby-boomer retirees.

Let the short sighted (likely literally as well as figuratively) older "poor me's" go if they can't see the bright future ahead. After all, what type of 'planner' are they really if they can't see this or organise their own affairs accordingly?

My comment may appear harsh, but they're accurate. A number will tsk tsk in disapproval and bang on about empathy, but we are aiming to be a profession and most of us are in business; we're not here for the 'greater good' or a charity organisation but in a literal sense we are here, concilio et labore, to look after our clients interests, our staff's interests and equally importantly if not more so, our own family's interests.

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