On 9 February 2017 the Corporations Amendment (Professional Standards of Financial Advisers) Bill 2016 establishing a new education and professional standards framework for the financial advice industry was legislated.
Under the reforms all new financial advisers will be required to be degree-qualified, to undertake a professional year and to pass an exam.
All financial planners will be required to undertake Continuing Professional Development (by 1 January 2019), be subject to a code of ethics (from 1 January 2020) and pass an exam (by 1 January 2021).
Existing financial planners who need to undertake additional study to meet the new education requirements will have until 1 January 2024 to do so.
The Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority Limited (FASEA) was established on 11 April charged with setting the education, training and ethical standards of financial advisers who provide personal advice on relevant financial products to retail clients.
At the same time, the FASEA board was named and four months later Deen Sanders was appointed as its inaugural chief executive.
As the body tasked with deciding what shape the 'equivalent' of a degree will take and the extent to which an adviser's past experience should be considered, FASEA is yet to formalise any determinations.
As such, despite the landmark amendments having passed some time ago and the level of industry support the reforms received, many of Australia's financial adviser network - particularly senior advisers - are in limbo; anxiety as to their future as a financial adviser remains dominant in their minds as they endure uncertainty around their need to undertake additional study.
In the lead up to the 2017 Association of Financial Advisers National Adviser Conference on the Gold Coast this month, Financial Standard spoke with finalists of the Adviser of the Year and Excellence in Education awards to gauge how industry leaders view the new standards and exactly how they think the final requirements should look.