Education arms advisers with ethical shield

Raising education standards in the financial advice industry may not be the panacea to thwart unethical behaviour in the industry but it can boost advisers' confidence in questioning the status quo, according to StatePlus.

The financial planning business' general manager, marketing and financial planning, Jason Andriessen, said tertiary education would enhance an individual's capacity to think critically. Also, if the education involved ethical components, it would arm financial planners with models for ethical reasoning, which would inevitably aid them in facing ethical dilemmas that they would, no doubt, frequently face.

It would also provide the employee or the authorised representative firmer ground to push back on stakeholders when they felt their ethics were being compromised.

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"If they do find an ethical dilemma where their licensee or employer is asking them to do things that are inconsistent with client needs (and that can happen), then the professional financial planner has the confidence to be able to say ‘actually I'm working for the client'," Andriessen said.

"If worse comes to worst, [they can] leave the licensee or employer because they're confident in their own career and their ability to act on behalf of their client in the long run."

Andriessen also pointed to a developing need for a financial planner to undertake additional study to specialise in specific fields like aged care, but said such courses did not exist at this point.

"I think there's an education opportunity for education providers to build specialist courses to enable specialisation in not just aged care, but in other areas," he said.

He said StatePlus was still in its infancy in building an aged care practice but said its offer did not yet resonate as well as it should.

Building aged care required very different capabilities in meeting a client's need at that point in time.

"Our experience with aged care is people seeking information to enable their decisions in the future but they defer making the decisions until there's an emergency. And that might involve mum or dad falling down the stairs or in the shower, and it suddenly becomes an emergency," he said, adding this was not the case in retirement planning.

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