Australia FASEA’s Sanders to join Deloitte, as IFA training debate rumbles on

Deen Sanders, a well-known Australian advisory industry figure who yesterday was reported to have stepped down after eight months from his role heading up the newly-created Australian Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA), is to join  Deloitte’s Australian offices in June, the Big Four accounting giant has confirmed. 

Sanders will join as a “conduct partner”, where his focus will be on reinforcing the accountancy’s  position with respect to financial advice remediation, prevention, oversight and monitoring services, Deloitte said in a statement.

News of Sanders move to Deloitte from the FASEA came as an ongoing debate among industry participants emerged in Australia’s online media and via official statements over the future of Australia’s financial advisory industry on Wednesday, specifically with respect to adviser education and qualifications.

The Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA), for example, released what it said were results of a questionnaire of its members – more than 1,700 of whom, it noted, had been “galvanised” into replying in the first 24 hours since it was released by “the recent FASEA announcements”.

The FASEA was created last year by Australia’s government in order to establish mandatory education and traning requirements for advisers in the country, ahead of the coming into force there, on 1 January 2019, of new educational standards for advisers.

The FPA didn’t reveal any of the specific data gleaned by its day-old questionnaire, but acknowledged that it had itself been “concerned that the FASEA proposals were over-engineered and would result in less access to advice for consumers and greater cost”, and that “member feedback”, as shown by the responses to the questionnaire, had “strongly confirmed this”.

“Many [survey respondents called for] a realistic approach to recognition of existing financial planning specific study,” it said, in a statement today.

The FPA statement went on to quote FPA chairman Neil Kendall as saying that the organisation “and  many others in [Australia’s] financial planning profession” had been concerned that the FASEA  had been ignoring its existing work, and that its “refusal to acknowledge the study done in advanced diplomas and the Certified Financial Planner Certification Programme [would] undermine that learning culture if it is not reviewed”.

“Our members are outraged and in disbelief that FASEA can ignore the financial planning specific study done in the CFP programme, yet recognise a law degree as a relevant financial planning qualification,” he added, in his statement.

“A financial planner with a business degree, eight subjects in the advanced diploma, and five masters level subjects in the CFP programme is treated as unqualified in the latest FASEA proposal, but an existing planner with a law degree only has to complete a non-technical bridging course to meet the standard.

“It is clear that the FASEA board have not been getting the right guidance on education standards.”

An article  in the Australian online trade publication, meanwhile, reported on Tuesday that it the FPA “has told members it will advocate for the CPA programme to receive greater recognition under FASEA’s proposed education pathways”. By 10:30pm Sydney time on Wednesday, some 22 industry readers had posted their thoughts on the matter.

As reported here yesterday,  Sanders is to be succeeded at the FASEA, at least initially, by Griffith University professor Mark Brimble,  in an acting managing director role, beginning on 23 April. In the meantime the organisation has retained an outside executive search firm, Egon Zehnder, to find a full-time successor to Sanders, the FASEA said in a statement.

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