Education and professional standards for financial advisers

What are the new professional standards?

The introduction of a range of education and ethical standards will require new and existing advisers giving financial advice on Tier 1 financial products (excludes general insurance, deposit products and personal sickness and accident) to retail clients to meet new requirements, including:

Importantly, the standards relate to Tier 1 financial product personal advice. Tier 2 financial products and those giving general advice only on Tier 1 products are not covered by the new standards.


Who is FAS (Treasury)?

Treasury has been tasked with governing the conduct of professionals in the financial advice sector by establishing mandatory educational and training requirements, developing and setting an industry exam, as well as the formation of a code of ethics that all advisers will be required to adhere to.

From 1 January 2022, the standard-setting function of FASEA moved to the responsible Minister and Treasury, and ASIC is responsible for administering the financial adviser exam.

What are the education requirements?

For new entrants, the maximum requirement is an approved bachelor’s degree (AQF7) comprising 24 subjects. The minimum requirement for a new entrant is an approved graduate diploma (AQF8) comprising of eight subjects, which is particularly relevant for career changers.

For existing advisers, the maximum requirement is an approved graduate diploma (AQF8) comprising of eight subjects by 1 January 2026. The minimum requirement for an existing adviser is one bridging course about the Code of Ethics (if it was not included in their qualification). Depending on their previous formal education or coursework for industry designations, existing advisers may be required to complete anywhere between one or eight subjects (including up to three bridging courses) at AQF8. The three bridging courses are:

Categories of advisers

FASEA Icon_Existing Adviser

Who is an existing adviser?

An existing adviser is a person who provides personal advice to retail clients at any time between 1 January 2016 and 1 January 2019; and is not banned, disqualified or suspended. Generally speaking, an existing adviser will be any individual listed on ASIC’s Financial Adviser Register as ‘current’ prior to 31 December 2018.

FASEA Icon_Career Changer

Who is a career changer?

A career changer is a new entrant after 31 December 2018 with experience from their career in various industries. Career changers will need to complete an AQF level 8 qualification approved by FAS.

FASEA Icon_New Entrant

Who is a new entrant?

A new entrant is a financial adviser listed on the Financial Adviser Register after 31 December 2018. New entrants will be required to complete a FAS-approved qualification at AQF Level 7.

About Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) level

What is an AQF level?

The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) specifies the standards for educational qualifications in Australia. It’s administered by the government and ranges from vocational education to higher education. There are 10 levels of AQF, commonly known as degrees, diplomas and certificates.

AQF ensures national recognition and consistency as well as a common understanding of what defines each qualification.


What do the AQF levels mean?

Each of the 10 levels are defined by a set of learning outcomes that should be attained by a graduate of a qualification at that level. Similar to a university, Kaplan Professional is a registered Institute of Higher Education regulated by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), and able to offer AQF Level 7 -10 qualifications, as well as short courses addressing specific training needs that don’t result in an AQF qualification.


AQF LevelGraduate outcomesQualificationsKaplan Professional QualificationsApplicability to the financial services industry
Level 10Systematic and critical understanding of a complex field of learning and specialised research skills for the advancement of learning and/or for professional practice.Doctoral degree
Level 9Specialised knowledge and skills for research, and/or professional practice.Masters degree
Master of Financial Planning
Approved by FAS*
Level 8Advanced knowledge and skills for professional/highly skilled work.Graduate DiplomaGraduate Diploma of Financial Planning
FAS approved
FAS’s maximum education requirement for existing advisers to be met by 1/1/2026
Graduate CertificateGraduate Certificate in Financial Planning
No AQF outcome will apply to the bridging courses Bridging course (3 units)FPC001B Economic and Legal Context for Financial Planning
Aligns to FAS bridging course: Financial Advice Regulatory & Legal Obligations

FPC002B Ethics and Professionalism in Financial Advice
Aligns to FAS bridging course: Ethics for Professional Advisers

FPC007B Client Engagement Skills
Aligns to FAS bridging course: Client and Consumer Behaviour, Engagement and Decision Making
FAS’s minimum education requirement for existing advisers to be met by 1/1/2026
No AQF outcome will apply to the bridging courses Bridging course (1 unit) FPC002B Ethics and Professionalism in Financial Advice
Aligns to FAS bridging course: Ethics for Professional Advisers
FAS’s minimum education requirement for existing advisers to be met by 1/1/2026
Bachelor honours degree
Level 7Broad and coherent knowledge and skills for professional work.Bachelor degreeNew entrant requirement for financial advisers from 1/1/2019
Level 6Broad knowledge and skills for paraprofessional/highly skilled.Advanced diploma

Associate degree
FNS60415 Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning
Level 5Specialised knowledge and skills for skilled/paraprofessional work.DiplomaFNS50615 Diploma of Financial PlanningPrevious minimum education requirement for financial advisers prior to 2019
Level 4Theoretical and practical knowledge and skills for specialised and/or skilled work.Certificate IV

*Depending on version completed. May require additional FAS Code of Ethics subject.

What are the CPD requirements?

The mandated CPD requirements came into effect on 1 January 2019.

Financial advisers are required to complete 40 hours of ‘qualifying CPD activities’ in each CPD year with a minimum requirement in the following areas:

  • Technical Competence – 5 hours
  • Client Care and Practice – 5 hours
  • Regulatory Compliance and Consumer Protection – 5 hours
  • Professionalism and Ethics – 9 hours
  • General – no set minimum

Kaplan Professional is the leading provider in the provision of industry CPD. Our flagship online platform Ontrack provides organisations and individuals with the content, tracking, reporting and consultancy they need to manage and meet their CPD obligations.

FAS Financial Adviser Examination

The FAS Financial Adviser Examination is a fundamental component of the education standards all financial advisers must pass to provide personal financial advice to clients.

Existing advisers must pass the exam before 1 January 2022. From 1 January 2019, new entrants to the industry must pass the exam after they’ve completed a FAS-approved degree, and before commencing quarter 3 in their professional year.

The exam will test the practical application of advisers’ knowledge in the following competency areas:

  • Financial Advice Regulatory and Legal Requirements
  • Financial Advice Construction
  • Applied Ethical and Professional Reasoning and Communication

The duration of the exam is 3.5 hours (including 15 minutes’ reading time) and consists of multiple-choice and written-response questions.


Kaplan Adviser Practice Exam (KAPE)

We’re delighted to offer a range of online exam preparation resources to help you prepare and practice prior to sitting FAS’s Financial Adviser Examination. Gain access to an online preparation room as well as an online proctored practice exam, designed to simulate the structure, duration and exam conditions of the Financial Adviser Examination. Click here to learn more.


*Depending on version completed. May require additional FAS Code of Ethics subject.

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How does RG 146, apply during the transition?

RG 146 may continue to apply to existing advisers until the new professional standards apply to them. Existing advisers should confirm these requirements with their licensee.