This information sheet is for registered trustees. It explains:
- the statutory obligation for a registered trustee to undertake continuing professional education (CPE)
- how to choose relevant CPE – taking into account the objectives of CPE and how it must be relevant to the individual registered trustee's work
- the categories of CPE – verifiable and informal (‘non-verifiable’) CPE
- how to verify and record CPE activities
- requirements when the person is both a registered trustee and a registered liquidator
- our approach to regulating compliance with CPE obligations.
Section 20-5 of the Insolvency Practice Rules (Bankruptcy) 2016 sets out the industry-wide CPE requirement for registered trustees. It provides that:
- registered trustees have a condition imposed on their registration that requires them to undertake at least 120 hours of CPE for every three years that the person is registered as a trustee, starting on the day the person is first registered as a trustee
- at least 30 hours of the 120 hours of CPE must be capable of being objectively verified by a competent source.
In addition to the industry-wide CPE condition, a registered trustee may have a specific condition or conditions imposed on their registration by a committee that relates to CPE, which must also be complied with.
A registered trustee must comply with all industry-wide and specific conditions imposed on their registration.
No exemption from CPE
A registered trustee must comply with the CPE conditions imposed on their registration even if their registration is suspended.
The legislation provides no discretion to AFSA to exempt a registered trustee from the CPE conditions imposed on their registration.
CPE is a learning activity that must assist in developing the individual’s competency.
A registered trustee is responsible for choosing suitable professional development activities and to judge, within the guidelines provided, whether these activities contribute to their professional development. Chosen CPE activities can relate to any competency that is relevant to the registered trustee’s current or future professional activities.
When choosing relevant CPE, the objective of CPE should be considered, as well as how the CPE is relevant to the individual registered trustee's work. We expect that the majority of CPE undertaken by a registered trustee will be relevant to their work providing insolvency services.
Objectives of CPE
The objectives of CPE are to maintain, enhance and extend an individual’s relevant knowledge, expertise and professional competence that is necessary:
- for the individual to provide quality services
- to strengthen public trust in the profession.
- keeping up to date with technical developments in the individual’s area(s) of specialisation
- extending knowledge into other relevant fields
- honing existing skills and developing new ones
- developing an understanding of the practical application of new skills and knowledge
- applying learning and accumulating experience.
Relevance to the individual’s work
For the purpose of complying with the CPE condition imposed on a registered trustee’s registration, CPE activities undertaken need to:
- be closely connected or appropriate to any competency that is relevant to the registered trustee’s current or future professional activities
- contribute to their ongoing ability to provide quality services.
CPE does not always have to be technical in nature or specific to the law and practice associated with personal insolvency. There is a wide variety of activities that might qualify as relevant work-related CPE, including:
- industry seminars that help to develop an understanding of, and competency in, the structure and operation of specific industry sectors (in which the individual does, or is likely to in the future, accept formal insolvency appointments)
- training directed at developing knowledge in other relevant areas of law, including employment law and contract law
- training associated with developing effective communication, negotiation or interpersonal skills
- training activities relevant to practice management
- training to assist with managing issues relevant to mental health, either within the firm or in the course of engagement with others outside of the firm
- improving proficiency in using IT software applications used in delivering corporate and personal insolvency services.
We expect that the mix of activities chosen reflects the individual’s learning and development needs. When there is significant law reform affecting the conduct of either personal or corporate insolvency, we expect a registered trustee would undertake appropriate CPE activities to familiarise themselves with the new law.
There are two broad categories of CPE:
- verifiable CPE
- informal (‘non-verifiable’) work-related CPE.
Verifiable CPE is a learning activity where third-party or objective evidence can be provided to support the completion of that activity.
As a general guide, verifiable CPE is more likely to:
- be structured
- be specifically designed to impart knowledge of a technical or educational nature
- have interactive learning
- sometimes have an assessment component
- involve teaching by competent specialists.
The balance between external and internal verifiable CPE will depend on the size, capacity and resources of a firm to deliver internal CPE.
Verifiable CPE includes:
- undertaking full-time and part-time tertiary study, including assessed online and distance learning and other structured courses
- undertaking post-graduate studies
- attending conferences, seminars and workshops provided by recognised training providers or professional bodies
- undertaking formal training provided by professional bodies and other recognised training providers
- attending in-house training and presentations – to the extent it relates to the development, maintenance and expansion of professional competence (training involving administrative tasks is not included)
- undertaking research for writing technical papers and articles
- delivering work-related presentations and training sessions or courses, including participating as a speaker at conferences, in briefing sessions and in discussion groups (only actual time engaged in researching and writing technical papers and presentation materials may be claimed – the repeat presentation of substantially the same material cannot be claimed)
- acting as a mentor or a mentee under a formal mentoring program
- serving on a technical committee (if the objectives of the committee are defined, and specific contributions are required).
Informal (‘non-verifiable’) work-related CPE
Informal work-related CPE, or ‘non-verifiable’ CPE, refers to other independent and informal activities associated with the individual’s work that contribute to their development. Informal CPE can include:
- reading technical or professional articles
- mentoring discussions and sharing knowledge and information at meetings
- participation in work-related committees
- internet research
- participation in activities associated with a professional association of which the individual is a member (not otherwise verifiable)
- volunteering if it helps to develop the individual’s social skills, capacity for leadership and/or project management skills
- engaging in an activity that develops the individual as a person (e.g. debating or a speech master program).
Individuals are expected to undertake more than one form of informal work-related CPE.
All CPE activities must be recorded. At least 30 hours of the required 120 hours for every 3 years must be capable of being objectively verified by a competent source.
Means by which CPE can be verified
CPE can be verified by various means, including:
- attendance records
- independent assessment by a competent individual or professional association that a learning activity has occurred
- confirmation by an instructor, mentor/mentee or tutor of participation in a learning activity
- confirmation by an employer of participation in an in-house program, including the CPE logs of firms
- published research work and academic articles or journal article publications that are relevant to the individual’s current or future work
- confirmation by other committee members (or secretariat) of participation on a technical committee.
We will generally not accept evidence of mere enrolment in CPE activities to satisfy the criteria for verifiable CPE. Rather, evidence of attendance at the CPE activity is required.
Registered trustees must keep appropriate records of the CPE activities undertaken. These records must be provided to AFSA upon request.
Only those hours that can be attributed to genuine learning (e.g. not breaks and entertainment sessions) should be recorded as CPE.
The registered trustee’s CPE records need to include:
- details of the learning activity undertaken, including the topic
- whether the learning is verifiable or non-verifiable
- the date(s) on which the learning activity was undertaken
- the provider of the learning activity
- the number of CPE hours attributed to the learning activity
- confirmation of whether verifiable evidence of the learning activity undertaken is available for monitoring purposes.
We expect that internal training will not be considered as verifiable CPE unless:
- an attendance record is maintained
- the training is supported by formal learning materials, including a written paper or presentation of the information provided
- the session is presented by a competent presenter who has demonstrated knowledge of, and experience in, the topic.
We expect the individual will be able to provide a written record of CPE undertaken, including its relevance, if requested.
In addition to the CPE condition imposed on their registration as a trustee, a registered trustee may be subject to other CPE requirements imposed by professional bodies of which they are a member. To help monitor compliance with their various CPE obligations, registered trustees may wish to maintain a central record of:
- all their CPE obligations, including details of the minimum hours of CPE that must be undertaken and the relevant period over which this must be completed
- all CPE activity they have undertaken.
When an individual is both a registered trustee and a registered liquidator, some CPE undertaken may be relevant to both registrations and may be considered more than once when determining whether the CPE condition on each of their registrations has been satisfied.
AFSA and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) expect that the CPE activities undertaken reflect the actual time spent by the individual on personal and corporate insolvency matters.
Further, AFSA and ASIC acknowledge that CPE undertaken may not reflect the actual time spent by the individual on personal and corporate insolvency matters – particularly when the choice of CPE undertaken is influenced by the need to develop awareness and understanding of legislative reforms occurring in either personal or corporate insolvency.
The individual must be able to establish that they have satisfied the CPE condition imposed on each of their registrations.
AFSA may monitor an individual’s participation in CPE activities and will take appropriate regulatory action if necessary.
Monitoring compliance with CPE requirements
AFSA may monitor an individual’s participation in CPE activities through:
- reviewing information provided in their Application to renew registration as a trustee
- assessing compliance during normal surveillance and inspection activities
- reviewing the CPE records of a random selection of registered trustees as part of an industry-wide compliance program to check that CPE obligations have been met.
Registered trustees can expect we would request further information about their CPE activities before taking any regulatory action for potential non-compliance with the CPE condition(s) imposed on their registration.
Failure to comply with CPE requirements
A registered trustee who forms a view they will be unable to comply with their CPE requirements should contact AFSA immediately and provide a written explanation of why they cannot satisfy the CPE condition(s) imposed on their registration.
A registered trustee who fails to satisfy the CPE condition(s) imposed on their registration may be subject to disciplinary proceedings, including the issue of a ‘show-cause’ notice to give AFSA a written explanation of why they should continue to be registered.
Failure to provide a satisfactory response to a show-cause notice may result in a referral to a committee for the purpose of deciding one or more of the matters set out in section 40-55 of Schedule 2 – Insolvency Practice Schedule (Bankruptcy) to the Bankruptcy Act 1966.
We will consider the following factors when determining the appropriate regulatory response:
- whether the registered trustee has approached AFSA before the expiry date of their registration to advise why they have been unable to comply with their CPE requirements and the proposed action to remedy the non-compliance
- whether the individual is, or has been, on leave from professional duties for an extended period (e.g. parental or sabbatical leave)
- whether there is a physical disability that would preclude the individual from engaging in CPE activities, or that it would be unreasonable to require the person to do so
- the individual’s CPE record and conduct history
- any other relevant factors that would reasonably preclude the individual from complying with the CPE requirements.