The proposed legislation around raising professional standards in financial services should specify a Bachelor in Financial Planning rather than degree alternatives, financial services training group, Mentor Education, said.
The group's chief executive, Dr Mark Sinclair welcomed the Government's focus on raising academic standards but said exemptions for degree equivalents would defy the purpose of improving financial advice for clients.
"Every other profession in Australia — accountants, doctors, physiotherapists, nurses, podiatrists, and business managers etc. — have their own 24-subject Bachelor Degree," he said.
"The proposed legislation needs to specify a ‘Bachelor of Financial Planning' rather than the nebulous reference in the legislation to a ‘degree alternative" or an unrelated ‘Bachelor's degree', such as a Bachelor of Commerce with a small number of financial planning electives."
The comments came amidst a survey of over 500 financial advisers, which revealed that over 74.3 per cent believed a 24-subject Bachelor's degree in Financial Degree would be more effective in boosting professionalism while only 25.7 per cent believed a degree equivalent would be effective.
Over 80 per cent supported the requirement for advisers to complete a Bachelor's Degree or an equivalent qualification or a national exam.
However, one in five did not see the value in a Bachelor's degree for advisers, while 10.9 per cent did not think advisers should be required to complete a year of work and/or training.
Over half (55 per cent) believed a degree in financial planning would professionalise the profession, while 38.7 per cent said it would help overcome negative publicity of the profession. Almost no one believed it would increase advice costs.
The survey also pointed out that aged care was not currently a subject in any Bachelors or Master's degree in financial planning despite the growing ageing population.
Over 30 per cent of respondents said they currently provided aged care advice while 22.2 per cent who did not do so now intended to provide it.