As part of incoming and mandatory education requirements, accountants operating under an AFSL prior to 31 December 2018 will be required to pass the examination before 1 January 2021.
From January 2019, new entrants or those returning to advice must pass the exam after completing an approved tertiary degree, and before they begin providing advice.
The body setting the new standards, the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA), proposes testing knowledge of:
- The Corporations Act;
- The FASEA Code of Ethics;
- Behavioural finance;
- Financial advice construction (i.e., the suitability of advice aligned to different consumer groups); and
- Applied ethical and professional reasoning and communication.
Licensed accountants will be allowed to sit the exam twice.
FASEA has been largely silent on the ongoing backlash from the accounting profession to the further education required from accountants.
For one, some accountants are frustrated their prior learning — often at PhD level — is not wholly recognised under the new framework.
Accounting-related degrees are listed as related degrees, not approved degrees, under the new standards. This means accountants eligible for the transitional arrangements will need to complete a bridging course of about three units of study to meet the new standards.
The units, which need to be at AQF8 level, are estimated to cost about $10,000 to complete.
Further, under the current guidance there is also no distinction between accountants with a full or limited AFSL, meaning accountants providing basic SMSF set-up services will be required to complete this additional training.
For those with a limited AFSL, who plan to continue providing basic SMSF services, the additional units of study aren’t superannuation specific.