How industry professionals went in the first round of FASEA exams and how to prepare for when you sit the exam.

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Earlier this year, FASEA finalised the details of the national compliance exam for Financial Advisers. The exam goes for 3.5 hours and it includes at least 70 questions. There are 64 multiple-choice questions and at least 6 short answer questions. Following the first exam sitting in June, the results were released earlier this month. Over 90 per cent of participants passed and approximately 2 per cent of Australia’s practising Financial Advisers registered for this sitting. With the inaugural exam now completed, the focus of the exam has become clearer throughout the industry.

What questions are on the FASEA exam?

According to FASEA, the purpose of the exam is to assess the competency of experienced Financial Advisers and new Financial Advisers in their Professional Year. There are three knowledge areas that FASEA is testing to determine an Adviser’s ability to provide advice to retail clients. As outlined on the FASEA website, these knowledge areas are:

  1. Financial Advice Regulatory and Legal requirements (including Corporations Act chapter 7, AML, Privacy and Tax Agents Services Act (TASA) 2009)
  2. Financial Advice Construction – suitability of advice aligned to different consumer groups, incorporating consumer behaviour and decision making
  3. Applied ethical and professional reasoning and communication – incorporating FASEA Code of Ethics and Code Monitoring Bodies

To help advisers prepare for the exam, FASEA has published practice questions. The questions follow the format that is to be expected in the exam — a scenario or case study followed by a series of multiple-choice and short answer questions to determine how you would handle the situation.

The first practice question, for example, explains a scenario where an elderly woman is moving to an aged-care facility and wants to leave her home as an inheritance for her children. The elderly woman’s daughter arranges an appointment with a Financial Adviser and explains that she can sign off on any advice even if her elderly mother doesn’t understand the Adviser’s recommendations. Following the scenario, there are several multiple-choice questions, four short-answer questions and several true or false questions. There’s no word limit on the short answer questions, so it’s worth taking the opportunity to go into as much detail as possible when you’re answering those questions.

While FASEA prohibits advisers who have sat the exam from sharing any specifics about the questions, updates like this one, shed some light on where to focus your attention when you’re studying:

  • RG 175
  • RG 246
  • Master Financial Planning Guide 2018/2019 CCH – Chapter 8
  • the FASEA Code of Ethics.

How to register for the FASEA exam

There are eligibility criteria that must be met for a Financial Adviser to register for the FASEA exam. To be eligible for the FASEA exam you:

  • must be a new FASEA entrant, or
  • be currently registered on ASIC’s Financial Adviser Register.

New FASEA entrants are required to complete the first two quarters of Professional Year before sitting the FASEA exam.

There are currently three exam sittings listed on the FASEA website — the June round that’s completed, the September sitting and the December sitting. Each sitting includes five days to choose from and there are up to two exam sessions per day.

Registrations are currently open for the September exam which will be sat across 15 locations around Australia. The September exam sitting runs from 19 September 2019 to 23 September 2019. You must visit the FASEA website to register for the September exam by 5pm on 30 August 2019.

There’s also an exam in December which will be located across 18 centres in Australia. Registrations for the December exam close at 5pm on 8 November 2019. The December exam runs from 5 December 2019 to 9 December 2019. Over 1,000 Advisers are already registered for the September and December exams.

With the final FASEA exam set to be scheduled for December 2020 and the results of this exam expected after the 2021 deadline, Advisers need to keep in mind that they will likely need to pass the exam before December 2020. This means that if you were planning on sitting the December 2020 exam, it will be too late to meet the deadline.

For those Advisers who haven’t sat an exam for a while and may be out of practice with exam conditions, organisations such as Kaplan are holding exam preparation workshops that include a practice exam. Although, with over 90% of Financial Advisers passing this first round of exams, good old fashioned study and applying your practical experience to the written answers may suffice. If you make sure you book your exam as soon as possible and put a plan in place to get all of your study done, you’ll give yourself the best opportunity to pass the exam on your first attempt.