Despite its high pass rate – 90% for the first sitting, 88% for the second and 86% for the third – many advisers, even those who passed, were left unsatisfied by the questions and conditions of the Financial Advisers Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) exam.
Of those surveyed by Money Management, only 21.7% said the exam questions were fair, while 62.3% said the conditions were fair.
Among the biggest complaints about the exam was that, despite being open-book, the exam had intense conditions placed on it that matched a closed-book exam.
The exam covers multiple areas of specialisation, which means advisers who specialise in one area were expected to accurately answer questions on areas they don’t specialise in to pass the exam.
Advisers had said they lacked feedback from results, leaving them unaware if they had performed poorly in a certain area, despite FASEA chief executive Stephen Glenfield’s previous assertions that unsuccessful candidates would “receive guidance on which knowledge areas they need to improve to enhance their ability to pass at a future sitting”.
In the ethics component, only a third (34.9%) said it was relevant, while a 32.6% each said it wasn’t or that it was hard to say.
Ambiguous was the key word as advisers felt the questions were subjective, unclear or poorly worded.
Another notable complaint was learning disabilities were not accounted for, neither were there any provisions for people who used English as a second language, which is significant for a multi-cultural country, which becomes a greater issue when combined with the ambiguous questioning line.
Although there was no shortage of exam preparation resources available in the market, older advisers still felt the pressure of sitting an exam for the first time in decades, if at all.
Many in the industry already had experience in tertiary education, including exams, and felt the FASEA exam didn’t compare in fairness.
You can complete the survey here.