The proposed registration exam that advisers will need to sit as part of the higher education and professional standards reforms must take advice specialisation into account, argues Centrepoint Alliance.
Responding to the draft legislation designed to improve the education and professional standards of advisers, Centrepoint Alliance said the one-off exam should focus on ethics and professional liability, given the wide range of adviser specialisation in the industry.
"Some advisers specialise in estate planning, while others specialise in life insurance and spend large amounts of time every year studying policy documents, underwriting standards and claims management processes," Centrepoint Alliance chief executive John de Zwart said.
“We believe transitioning advisers should meet the professional qualifications in all respects except they should only be tested on core subjects such as ethics, professional code of conduct, and professional liability, plus areas related to their speciality.
“Once qualified they would only be licensed to advise on their area of speciality,” he said.
Mr de Zwart added that “highly experienced advisers” who have a minimum period of experience demonstrating their competencies should be allowed to sit the same exam or a “cut down specialist exam” irrespective of whether they hold a degree.
“We continue to expect our own advisers, those who are institutionally aligned and other independently aligned advisers to commit to better professionalism measures, higher education, codes of conduct and ultimately higher quality advice,” he said.
“Australians need and truly benefit from quality financial advice delivered by professionals who are focused on their clients' best interests.
“The new professional standards should therefore recognise that financial advice is a complex area and the current education levels of existing advisers differ greatly, as does their experience and specialisations,” Mr de Zwart said.
"We need to get this transition right so that there are not unintended consequences that come back to bite the industry and, ultimately, consumers,” he added.