To study or not to study – Education feature part 2

When the Government initially announced the professional standards bill, one of the biggest concerns was whether there would be an early retirement exodus of late-career advisers deciding not to pursue a degree or equivalent, Jassmyn Goh writes.

AdviceIQ Partners director, Phillip Leslie, has been an adviser for 27 years but came from a legal background. 

Leslie entered the industry through a financial planning practice and was trained internally which had been established by a Swiss-Italian accountant because financial planning was something accountants did in Switzerland.

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“I have a relevant degree, my understanding is that I would have to do the Advanced Diploma if I want to stay in the industry. So I’m covered by some of the transition provisions,” he said.

Leslie said that he was deliberating whether he would continue his studies based on the quality of the qualification and who would provide it.

“I’ve done courses in the past where an essay question was half of the course. I just thought that the whole thing was misconceived,” he said. 

“Just because you say you’re going to have a course doesn’t mean it’s appropriate, or covers the right kind of questions. There tends to be a focus in the financial planning industry in that what we do is we provide the technicalities of advice to clients and don’t take responsibility of markets, and yet the reality is that people invest and make money. 

“I have trouble at times with the focus on applying the rules of investing without recognising the nature of markets and their volatility and the fact that their clients expect you to be on top of that to some degree or other.”

Leslie noted that if planners ran their own business they could integrate a course into their working hours and that it was not as onerous as people thought it might be.

Mid-career Westpac adviser, Roger Perrett has a Bachelor of Business (major in finance and marketing), a Diploma of Financial Planning, and has commenced a fellowship of chartered financial practitioner. Yet he still faced uncertainty over whether his qualifications were relevant. 

“I’m doing the fellowship in anticipation and whether it helps me meet the standard or not, I’m doing it anyway,” he said.

Perrett said while mature advisers initially protested against new educational requirements he had not actually seen it.

“As people get closer to it they have realised the benefits that education brings and that it’s not necessarily a bad thing because it’s a chance to grow and learn,” he said. 

“I haven’t actually seen people actually execute their threats – they haven’t retired or anything like that.”

FPA head of policy and government relations, Benjamin Marshan said irrespective of age, planners needed to think about what they wanted to do with their career going forward.

“I was recently at a networking event and met a planner younger than me who doesn’t have a degree and said he had no intention of doing extra study either. So there are young planners that don’t want to do it,” Marshan said.

“I’ve also met a 72-year-old planner who approached me and asked ‘what education can I do now so that in 2024 I meet the standard’.”

Click here to read part one of this feature: Professionalism: Are we there yet?

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