National Seniors has welcomed a new authority set up to oversee the standards and ethics of financial advisers.
Former Chief Executive of National Seniors, Michael O’Neill, is one of three directors with consumer advocacy experience who have been appointed to the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA).
The other five directors include three with financial services experience, an ethicist and an academic.
The body will be headed by a director of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Payments Systems Board, Catherine Walter, who has also served on 15 other boards since 1993.
National Seniors Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said FASEA would help rebuild confidence in the sector and was expected to improve advice to older consumers.
“We are looking to the new body to lift the professional and educational standards of financial advisers across the industry so older consumers have access to quality, independent advice,” he said.
“National Seniors has been advocating for a long time for major reform of the financial advice sector and this body is critical.”
The Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O’Dwyer, said FASEA would be responsible for governing the conduct of professionals in the financial advice sector, by setting mandatory educational and training requirements, developing and setting an industry exam, and creating a code of ethics all advisers would be required to adhere to.
The new requirements, which would start from 1 January 2019, meant new advisers would be required to hold a relevant degree before they started a supervision year. They would also be required to sit an exam.
Existing advisers would have two years, until 1 January 2021, to pass the exam and five years, until 1 January 2024, to reach a standard equivalent to a degree.
All advisers would be required to adhere to the code of ethics from the start date of 1 January 2020.
Michael O’Neill stepped down last year after 10 years at the helm of National Seniors Australia.