Financial Advisers who undertake our FASEA Exam Prep Programs often ask what impact, if any, COVID-19 has had on the requirements of Advisers to maintain their Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours in line with their annual individual CPD Plan.
As you are aware, Financial advisers are required to complete 40 hours of CPD each year of which 70% must be approved by their licensee (including a maximum 4 hours of professional reading). The minimum hours for CPD across the mandatory categories are:
- Technical – 5 hours
- Client Care and Practice – 5 hours
- Regulatory Compliance and Consumer Protection – 5 hours and
- Professionalism and Ethics – 9 hours
The balance up to 40 hours must consist of qualifying CPD.
FASEA released a CPD Logbook to make it easier for Financial Advisers and Licensee to record adherence to the legislated CPD requirements.
Under COVID-19 conditions, how are Advisers expected to maintain CPD requirements?
FASEA recently announced (19th March) some guidance and insight in relation to the operation of CPD requirements resulting from current COVID-19 business disruption.
Importantly, FASEA wanted to make it known to Financial Advisers and Licensee that it recognises the challenges presented by COVID-19, especially in relation to the difficulty (or impossibility) to deliver face to face or in-person CPD offerings.
FASEA has advised Licensees to take a supportive approach to compliance in these extraordinary circumstances. There was no guidance on what FASEA deems to be “supportive” approaches, however it does indicate that “… effective solutions are being offered by Licensee CPD programs that contain online learning as part of a led or conducted CPD program. Video conferencing and/or webinar technology options are appropriate alternatives to face to face offerings.”
In other words, just because Advisers cannot meet in person does not negate or remove any obligations for individual Financial Advisers to meet their mandatory CPD requirements.
What should Financial Advisers and Licensees do?
Licensee CPD policies are required to include potential relief provisions to assist the needs of Advisers affected by extenuating circumstances (including medical). In the current extraordinary circumstance licensees will no doubt be reviewing and, where appropriate, adjusting their CPD policy to include appropriate provisions
At a Practitioner level, the COVID-19 environment might require a Financial Adviser to contact their Licensee to determine the most appropriate approach to their individual position. This could include a review of the Adviser’s individual annual CPD Plan and the possibility to make amendments where necessary.
ASIC released guidance on 3rd April 2020 and stated Advisers should “… in conjunction with (their) advice licensee, consider how these changes will affect existing or intended arrangements. For example, video conferencing and/or webinar technology options are appropriate alternatives to face to face CPD offerings. Many courses are also offered as online courses.”
For example, myIntegrity’s FASEA Exam Prep Programs offer CPD hours across the CPD Categories. Our FASEA Exam Prep Programs are designed to help Financial Advisers, who are often time-poor and overwhelmed by the amount of change currently taking place, “filter out and distil” all the noise and confusion regarding the FASEA Exam so they can focus on the important aspects. The aim is to provide peace of mind that any preparation they undertake will be worthwhile and not a waste of their time.
The added benefit of these Programs is they also help Financial Advisers meet their individual CPD requirements in these challenging times.