The Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) Exam is a required component of the education standard that all Financial Advisers are required to pass to provide personal financial advice to retail clients in respect of retail financial products.
In these unprecedented and uncertain times, FASEA recognises the challenges presented by COVID-19 on the delivery of face to face exams and its evolving impact in Australia on the business as usual routine of financial advisers.
What happened to the APRIL FASEA Exam Sittings?
On 18th March, FASEA advised that the April 2020 face to face sittings of its Adviser Exam are cancelled due to these challenges. FASEA, in conjunction with ACER which is the Body responsible for administering the FASEA Exam, announced that all in-person April Exam sittings would be cancelled and substituted with a remote, online options.
What challenges did some Advisers have with the ONLINE EXAM model?
Financial Advisers who chose to sit the APRIL Exam via the remote, online options were told that they needed:
- a computer with a camera so the Adviser could be observed and monitored throughout the Exam by External Supervisors/Invigilators
- a secure internet connection with enough bandwidth to conduct the exam and have an External Supervisor monitor them through a camera on their computers
- to allow access through the Advisers’ IT Firewall
What happened if you did not want to undertake the Exam remotely but had already registered for the April Sitting?
All Financial Advisers who were registered for the April sitting where provided with an option by FASEA to defer until the June or a later sitting. I spoke with many who raised concerns about the requirements of the online exam, in particular the requirement to allow access through their IT Firewall (security concerns) as well as what would happen if the internet dropped out or there was an issue in the midst of the Exam.
Advisers’ understanding was that if the Exam was interrupted for any reason, it would be their bad luck and the resultant score would constitute their mark for that sitting.
Understandably, many Advisers, especially older Advisers, felt the risk was far too great and opted to transfer to the June Sitting in the hope it would revert to an in-person Exam by that time.
FASEA Exam Extension – is it possible?
Can FASEA simply put the Exam Sittings ‘on hold’? The short answer is “no”.
FASEA is conscious of the need to continue to offer exams through the remainder of 2020 to enable existing advisers to meet the legislated timeframe. Existing advisers who are “Active” on ASIC’s Financial Adviser Register have until, and including, 31st December 2020 to pass the exam. The Government is currently reviewing this date with a possible extension of 12 months to 31st December 2021.
Senator the Hon Jane Hume, Assistant Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and Financial Technology, recently stated “We’ve already announced – and it has gone through the house of representatives – an extension to the FASEA education timelines (Exam and Higher Education requirements)… It has bipartisan support, which is terrific. I want to reassure everyone that still remains the case.”
With COVID-19 and the resultant limited sittings of Parliament, it is still the intention of both the Government and Opposition to pass the extension into legislation, although some risk remains it does not pass in time. As of the date of this article, Existing Advisers will be required to pass the exam before 1 January 2021.