What makes an industry a profession?

Blake Briggs Jane Hume FSC

13 May 2022
| By Laura Dew |
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There has been commentary in the news lately about whether or not the financial advice industry has become a profession and whether this deserves a lighter touch regulation.

Firstly, Financial Services Council chief executive, Blake Briggs, said the advice industry should be recognised for the steps it had taken to improve since the Royal Commission and later, Senator

Jane Hume agreed the advice sector was no longer considered a ‘sales job’.

Both are positive forward-thinking messages to put out to the sector that their work over the last few years is being recognised and the efforts advisers have made to pass exams and improve their standards have successfully led to increased professionalism.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a profession is an occupation in which a professed knowledge is applied or one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification. 

It is safe to say that thanks to the educational, professional and regulatory changes imposed on the industry, it now meets this criteria and could be classed as a profession in the same way as doctors or lawyers. 

One downside would be these higher standards have made it harder for people to enter the industry but, on the flip side, those who do are more likely to be doing it for the right reasons rather than to just make money in commission.

The next step is whether this professional standing will be recognised when it comes to future regulation. 

Briggs said he hoped the Quality of Advice Review, which was due to be completed in December, would recognise the improvements that had been made and reduce the volume of regulation. The heavy-handed approach needed to force an industry to improve should no longer by necessary once the changes had been made, he said. 

Many advisers would welcome a loosening of the tight rules they are currently bound by and appreciate being treated in the same way as other professional peers rather than as the ‘bad guys’ of financial services. 


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