Real estate agents who provide financial advice around property investment can now undertake a new training course as part of a wider strategy to professionalise the industry.
The new RG146 Advice in Real Estate Course has been made available through a partnership between the Real Estate Institute of Australia, the Institute of Public Accountants and Mentor Education, enabling property investment advisers, mortgage brokers, accountants, real estate agents and property developers to discuss general drivers and factors to be considered when making decisions related to property investment.
REIA president Malcolm Gunning said the new qualification is being offered to agents as part of "a broader strategy to professionalise the industry and to provide clients the level of advice they desire from agents providing a comprehensive service."
"Upon completion of the course, agents will have satisfactorily fulfilled ASIC's RG146 requirements and will be able to offer general advice on financial products and services. This will also allow them to provide factual advice on what the products are and what they do," Gunning said.
This includes loans, life insurance, retirement planning, general insurance, SMSFs, superannuation, managed property investments, securities and derivatives.
As defined by ASIC, "factual advice" is "objectively ascertainable information whose truth or accuracy cannot be reasonably questioned," which is different to "general advice," which is defined as "advice prepared without taking into account the client's objectives, financial situations or needs."
Gunning said that the regulator has indicated that agents who complete the course will be able to conduct seminars, presentations, office and sales meetings.
RG146 certified agents will also be allowed to discuss - in general terms - other investment-related topics such as self-managed superannuation funds, pointing to an opportunity for Australia's dealer groups as agents would require authorisation by an Australian Financial Services licensee or to obtain a license themselves.
According to a statement from REIA, it first engaged the IPA around the designing and provision of a course for real estate agents in regards to property advice after an October 2015 decision by the Supreme Court of NSW against Park Trent Properties Group regarding advice provided by agents as it relates to SMSFs.
Discussing the new certification, the IPA website says: "If you're looking to find a position within the investment property industry, or are currently employed in the sector, this course is the ideal starting point to allow you to embark on a career in this sector. The course is a great model for 'on the ground' customer support staff who need to be knowledgeable enough to answer industry questions and queries from customers."
The course requires 20 hours of online study for completion, and all those that achieve the qualification are directed to advise clients to seek guidance from an appropriately qualified professional should they seek more personalised financial advice.