8 May 2015

Ethics classes for finance sector

9:20 am on 8 May 2015

Australia's biggest banks have announced support for a huge overhaul of the scandal-hit financial planning sector, including mandatory university degrees, exams and ethics classes.

Major issues have been exposed in the planning arms of banks including Commonwealth Bank, Macquarie Bank and NAB, the ABC reports.

Commonwealth Bank (CBA) signage and ATM, Sydney, 2014.

Photo: AAP

The Australian Bankers' Association (ABA) represents the country's big four banks along with about 20 other institutions.

In a submission to the Australian Federal Government, the ABA supported tough new standards for advisors on products such as life insurance, shares and superannuation.

Australian Bankers Association chief executive Steven Munchenberg at a senate inquiry in 2012.

ABA chief executive Steven Munchenberg at a senate inquiry in 2012. Photo: AFP

"We want to see financial advice professionalised and [see implemented] the changes that are being proposed to increase the education requirements [and] the professional standards that financial advisors need," the association's chief executive Steven Münchenberg said.

At present planners can practice with a few months study and a diploma. The proposed rules would see university degrees become a minimum qualification for advisors, along with a professional training year and mandatory exam before planners can be registered.

The ABA's submission to the Government also backs mandatory annual "ethics and responsible decision-making" classes as part of a professional development programme.

It also said planners should have to be members of a professional association and abide by a code of conduct.

"This is all a major step forward in professionalising financial advice and addressing some of the issues that are only all too familiar from the last few years," Mr Münchenberg said.

"We want people to trust financial advice, so making it into a proper profession is the way we're going to do that."

The Government is considering its next move after two inquiries into the standards and professionalism of the financial planning industry.


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