Why the cost of the FASEA exam has nearly doubled

Alex Burke,  Senior Writer,  No More Practice Education

Last week, we discussed the proposed amendments to the Better Advice Bill, which are open for consultation until the 15th

Included in those amendments was the exam deadline extension for advisers who have made two previous attempts before December 31st this year. As previously flagged by Senator Jane Hume, this affords advisers more time - up until September 30th next year - to complete the exam. 

Should they elect to take the exam next year, though, they'll be paying significantly more for the privilege. Currently the exam costs $540 plus GST, but once ASIC assumes exam administration stewardship from FASEA in January, the price of admission rises to $948. If an adviser wants to apply for ASIC to review the marking of one or more non-multiple choice answers, they'll have to fork out an additional $218. 

According to figures supplied by FASEA at the end of August, just over 16,000 advisers have passed the exam so far. Collectively, this represents 73% of the active advisers on ASIC's register. And given that the number of advisers in Australia recently dropped to another historic low - under 19,000, per reports in September - the steep exam application price increase makes a certain amount of sense: the cost of ASIC administering the exam is being spread across an ever-shrinking group of potential applicants. 

However, even putting aside the possibility that a more expensive exam might disincentivise those advisers from staying in the industry (or new entrants from joining it), there isn't much evidence yet that some of the profession's biggest concerns about the exam will be addressed once ASIC takes over. As we've discussed many times, one of the biggest areas of underperformance in the exam is practical applications of FASEA's Code of Ethics. 

One might argue that's less the fault of the exam and more indicative of the problems with the Code itself, but either way, advisers preparing to complete the process towards FASEA certification next year face an increased cost without much extra certainty. And even though the amendments to the Better Advice Bill propose more permissive and flexible arrangements for sitting the exam, there's still a lot up in the air regarding when, where and how ASIC will administer it. 

If these amendments aim to provide clarification on these issues, now's the time. 

 


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