The Financial Counsellors’ Association of WA (FCAWA) was incorporated in 1985 and the primary objectives are to establish, monitor and improve standards for financial counsellors in Western Australia. FCAWA is unique as the peak body to support financial counsellors and their clients through education, information, resources, and relevant legal support.
Financial counselling in Australia is regulated through the Financial Services Reform Act 2001. Legislative recognition further highlights the need to have adequate legal support available for financial counsellors to support the most vulnerable of consumers.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) granted conditional exemption from the licensing obligations for not-for-profit financial counselling services (under Class Order 03/1063 of the Corporations Act 2001 gazetted on 16.12.03). This exemption requires certain conditions to be met and these include:
- The service provided is limited to financial product advice of the types described in Class Order 03/163 and counsellors must not give advice about purchasing certain investment products.
- No fees or charges are paid by the clients.
- The agency does not get remuneration from any action undertaken for the client.
- The agency ensures the counsellors are members, or are eligible to be members, of a Financial Counselling Association.
- The agency ensures its counsellors have undertaken appropriate training to ensure they have adequate skills and knowledge to satisfactorily provide the service.
Federal legislation to protect the terms came into effect on 1 March 2013. Section 160C of the Consumer Credit and Corporations Legislation Amendment (Enhancements) Bill 2011 and restricts the use of the terms ‘financial counsellor’ and ‘financial counselling’ to organisations that provide financial counselling services as prescribed under the National Consumer Credit Protection Regulations 2010.