An industry body has blasted both sides of Parliament for being out of touch with the concerns of advisers and their clients after failing to pass the FASEA extension bill last week.

In a statement released on Monday, United Financial Advisers Association chairman Alex Vagliviello said the inability of the Coalition and Labor to put aside their differences and pass legislation allowing an extension to the FASEA compliance deadline “defied comprehension” given the critical importance of the advice profession in the current crisis.

“The failure to pass the FASEA extension bill was not an issue of a simple exam extension but a reaffirmation of the gulf between politicians and their consultants and the real world of advisers and the benefit they provide to consumers – many of whom now are on struggle street as a result of the pandemic,” Mr Vagliviello said.

“At a time when Australia needs bold and decisive action and a vision charting a return to economic wellbeing for the good of the people, federal parliamentarians are once again found wanting – they simply don’t care.”

Mr Vagliviello said with a large proportion of advisers having left the industry last year and many more considering retiring in 2020 as the existing deadline for exam compliance loomed, it was possible that further delays to the passage of the bill could see extensive job losses in the advice sector.

“Politicians continue to ignore the fact that financial advisers are SMEs and are leaving the industry in unprecedented numbers,” he said. 

“This latest fiasco will not only accelerate the exodus, but in doing so, condemn their administrative staff and paraplanners to be added to the ranks of unemployed.”

Mr Vagliviello said growing uncertainty around the bill was contributing to mental health issues for advisers, who had been “inundated” with client queries due to extreme market volatility.

“From the outset of the resultant collapse in share and property markets brought about by the pandemic, financial advisers have literally been inundated by business owners forced to close their enterprises and individuals made unemployed or required to take leave without pay,” he said.

“[They are] all reaching out to advisers needing professional qualified advice in relation to pensions, superannuation, share values, personal and household debt, how to manage cash flow, life insurance [and] mortgages.”

The comments come following a stoush between both sides of Parliament last week that saw the bill to extend the FASEA exam compliance deadline to 2022 fail to pass the Senate in last week’s reduced sitting.

The upper house is set to sit again on 10 June.

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