Australian financial services licensees (AFSLs) are required to update the details of their advisers on the Australian Securities and Investment Commission’s (ASIC’s) Financial Adviser Register (FAR) after passing the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) exam, but this information is not publicly accessible.
An AFSL had to notify ASIC within 30 business days of the licensee becoming aware the existing provider had passed the exam.
Colin Williams, HFS Consulting director, said ASIC indicated the FASEA exam had to be reported “by the licensee” to ASIC which would be made public by default on the FAR. However, the FAR does not currently disclose whether an adviser had passed the exam, only if they had completed a FASEA-approved tertiary course.
“It was later indicated that the exam results must be reported to ASIC but the results would not be published on the public FAR,” Williams said.
“There would be no charge for this. However, some of the general instructions for completing the FAR by licensees has not be updated that well and one could believe that the exam results would be published.”
A spokesperson for ASIC said the reason this information was not publicly available on the FAR was because it was not required under the Corporations Act.
Williams said some licensees had opted – either intentionally or by error – to place the FASEA exam results under the broader definition of “qualifications and training” and often also under “FASEA approved qualifications”.
“I believe this is optional and some may be doing this intentionally as their results appear in searches under the MoneySmart find an adviser [filter]. There is a fee for doing this.”
ASIC did not confirm if there was a fee but said “some licensees choose to include information regarding the exam in the ‘qualifications and training’ field on FAR”.
“As the exam administrator, FASEA has a complete record of all advisers who have passed the exam,” the ASIC spokesperson said.
“FASEA also publishes a list of advisers who have passed the exam. An adviser must consent to their name being added to the published list.”
There were currently just over 8,750 advisers that had opted to list themselves on the register on FASEA’s website, while over 12,000 had passed the exam.
Williams said: “From the public perspective, it is confusing as if you do a search for an adviser under the MoneySmart website, you can see an adviser’s qualifications but not the FASEA exam result and you are told that FASEA approves all qualifications with some showing up as approved and others not.
“You then search the FASEA website and maybe find that adviser but told to check the ASIC MoneySmart website for all the qualifications – a bit of a loop.
“Currently the system makes it hard for someone looking for an adviser to get surety of the qualifications of a prospective adviser.”