Exemptions from proposed higher education standards for financial planners are ‘ludicrous', the managing director of a financial services training firm believes.
Mentor Education principal, Dr Mark Sinclair, said ‘degree equivalents' provided to planners who complete industry association programs were no match for a fully-fledged 24-subject financial planning degree.
"While acknowledging there is angst amongst some sections, the reality is the financial advice industry simply cannot progress further, and take its place alongside trusted advisers such as accountants, lawyers, doctors, teachers, etc., without appropriate and benchmarked higher education academic qualifications," he said.
"Whilst some important details are being worked through - such as what kind of qualification will apply to what kind of adviser - most of the parliament, professional industry member associations and key stakeholders support the effort to create better standards. It will catalyse long-term positive change across the industry.
"The new education requirements should be contemporary and appropriate to both existing advisers and new industry entrants.
"For established advisers it should acknowledge their experience and provide a framework around their hands on knowledge and depth of expertise — a framework they can leverage to further enhance their business success and client advice endeavours.
"New entrants will benefit with a qualification that will underpin their on-going professional and self-employed careers."
Sinclair said that any new legislation should "Not have any so-called ‘degree equivalents' — such as an industry association four subject post-nominals".
"These four subjects, together with the eight subjects in an Advanced Diploma can provide credits/exemptions towards a 24 subject Bachelor's degree, but it's ludicrous to call them a degree equivalent and will only leave the industry open to further ridicule," he said.
Sinclair added that no new hurdles should be put in place for those wishing to provide "limited advice", and the any training must be "manageable, flexible and affordable", while continued professional development must be linked to renewal exams every three years, to ensure advisers keep abreast of the ever-changing legislative and knowledge requirements expected and required of an advice professional.