Financial planning needs a defined career path

The two largest frustrations from potential new entrant financial planning candidates are that there is no defined career path and that there are no structured graduate programs available from practices.

Speaking at the Australian Institution of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) Super Financial Advice Symposium, Deakin Business School program director for financial planning, Marc Olynyk said as there was not a defined career path for financial planners, students did not know what to look for when applying for jobs.

“A couple of my best post grad students asked ‘what are the jobs? Where do I find jobs? What are the sort of jobs I apply for?’,” he said.

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“There is very little knowledge on what the career path is. They’ll ask ‘what do I look for when I gradate? Do I look for junior or associate financial planner?’ And some of the financial planning requirements need five to eight years of experience.

“They’re probably not even aware of client administration and paraplanning roles. There’s not a defined career path that students would readily look at to work out what to apply for.”

Olynyk said the financial advice and superannuation industry had a leading role to play in developing graduate programs and internships that were structured so that students had a better idea of what to look for.

“The other frustration is that there’s no structured graduate programs and there’s no structured internship program, unlike accounting employers and chartered firms with grad programs,” he said.

“In financial planning there are no structured programs especially with banks exiting and larger institutions downsizing and divesting advisers, it’s hard for students to know where to find roles. It would help if there was a more structured grad program or internship program or get direction about where to look for a position.”

Another issue Olynyk said the industry would need to learn how to handle were career change students who were older and had more life experience.

“Because of their life experience they have higher salaries and work expectations than undergrads but when they look around they’re expected to start at the bottom and work their way up,” he said.

“Having to take a significant pay cut and start at the bottom is a lot for them and they have to ask themselves: ‘I have to take a $50,000 pay cut – is it worth it? How long is it going to take for me to recoup costs and move up to a $100,000 salary? What are my long-term career expectations?’

“That’s a challenge for the industry.”

Also on the panel, Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA) student engagement manager, Jemimah McMurray, said mature aged students would start to fill the demand hole.

“Financial planning is an attractive career prospect once you get past the salary cut and move into the profession,” she said.

“What super funds will need to do is figure out how to integrate those people with these experiences to make those career changes.

“If you can get someone with tax or accounting experience you’ll add more value as well to the advice they can provide along with the life experience they come with as well. Definitely look out for career changers.”

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The issue is systemic. Massive reduction in advice practices to begin with, and those remaining the ageing demographic means many are sellers of practices, not looking to employ. Add the cost of additional licensing for a graduate who within a year or so will be touching advice, the trend to outsourcing paraplanning as a result of reducing margins due to regulation, and you get a very skinny pool of practices even interested in thinking about this. The cost to client increases mean we are taking on less of the Australian population as clients, this means less job options.

The reduction in adviser numbers won't outpace the reduction in client numbers until 2026 after the FASEA degree deadline expires. Until then, most new financial planning graduates will have great difficulty finding a job.

The only way this is likely to change is if the current mess of bad regulation is fixed, so that the cost and complexity of financial advice is reduced, and the decline in client numbers is reversed.

University academics are wasting their time speaking to industry about a lack of career options for their graduates. Instead they should be lobbying the government and the regulators to fix the mess of bad regulation, which is making things worse for the industry, consumers, and career aspirants alike.

Maybe these Uni "academics" should talk to one of their....Mark Brimble, about how FASEA is responsible for much of the current mess.

Sure these Uni academics and their career advice centres should have this career path worked out for young people ?
It’s not rocket science is it and it’s even mentioned in the article.
Start in Advice / Super / Investment etc Admin to get some basic understanding of industry, complexity of products, etc
Admin to Para Planning, combined with more specific Advice study.
Junior Planner / FARSEA professional year.
How bloody hard is that to work out ?????

Financial planning is not a young person's profession. It requires maturity, empathy, and life experience. These things cannot be taught in university. The best career advice for young undergraduate financial planning students is to change course to something else.

On the other hand, financial planning is well suited to older career changers who have proven themselves in other fields, and have acquired sufficient life experience. Of course it will involve lots of study and a pay cut in the early years. Career change usually does. But it can offer long term benefits such as good income, security of employment, and the opportunity for helping others.

Jassmyn I hope you noted the PY system has only just commenced?

Never been a fan of the banks in FP for obvious reasons, the one plus against many negatives was the planner nursery. That is now gone and has been replaced by......nothing. The training wasn't brilliant, the culture awful but at least they had the basics. We have two AR's and can manage at the moment but we did do the maths.

We estimate direct costs will be $50k-$80k to bring someone though PLUS their salary.

As soon as they graduate and ex-planners who will become"business owners" will pay anything almost for staff (yes I think it will get that bad), you will lose them as soon as they graduate or be black mailed into massive pay rises before they've seen their first fee paying client without a chaperone.

Gotta luv "Fairwork Australia", never has an organisation had such an oxymoronic name! Employers have zero rights.

As a consequence we are not rushing to train anyone and I'm sure many other businesses that feel they have a choice will do the same.

This is clearly inconsistent with the longevity and health of the future profession but my pockets aren't that deep to constantly train for the good of the profession whilst having little chance of even cost recovery let alone a return on investment and the time involved.

The damage being done to the experienced cohort and those that choose to remain will be a decade or more to achieve any kind of meaningful recovery.

I agree, our pockets are not that deep to keep training people with no benefit for ourselves.

marc, ask your students to call ASIC, there will be a job in compliance there and as your students are trained in financial planning they can teach ASIC staff, or also the few remaining dealer groups they may also have a role in compliance.

or just go on the dole.

I deeply regret my career in financial planning. What we do for clients is rewarding. But the long hours, impossible red-tape and constant compliance risks make this a career path to avoid. Don't listen to the lies told by universities. They only care about flogging courses. Look at the comments from this program director at deakin. He can't even point his top students to a career path. The fact is, this industry is imploding. As the numbers of financial planners continues to plummet, there is less need for paraplanners, less need for admin staff, less need for junior planners. The few jobs going around will be snapped up by desparate experienced people who have lost their jobs elsewhere. The only job prospects on the horizon will be call centre workers required by super funds to flog their own products under the tricky disguise of intrafund 'advice'. If you are already in an fp degree, cut your losses, use whatever credits you can to pivot into another career. You have been sold a dud. All the best.

Sad but true.

it's true, just get your course cross credits into another degree, and go and work somewhere else. do not enter. it's the same advice I would give my own children.

cut your losses, and run, fast, the industry is in a downward death spiral.

I'm genuinely sorry you feel this way. I am an older partner of a two partner firm, my younger partner expressed a similar concern a couple of years ago. I suggested to him at that time that it will be a real sh%$ 5 years for us, compliance will get worse before it getters better but my expectation is that it ultimately will.

There is a golden meadow of opportunity for all on the other side if you can wait it out. Whether this is a lower profitable business or a sub optimal wage or career development opportunities. Come 2025 planner wages will explode and businesses will start to leverage technology better and compliance noose will hopefully have loosened somewhat.

I think the future is extraordinarily bright and potentially lucrative for both businesses and staff.

The fact that middle Australia will not be able to afford to participate due to idiotic regulations and halving of adviser numbers is the most unfortunate casualty of this process. (Not including the current mental health issues that ASIC and the government have created).

You just have to weather the storm for the opportunities on the other side.

I wish you well.

I applaud your optimism and the unflinching belief in a government and regulator who have been the very cause of the real sh%$ to fix the issues.

I don't think the regulatory noose will be loosened in 5yrs time. If Labor don't win the next federal election, they're likely to win the election after (2025) and if you think the Liberals have been bad for the industry, just wait until Labor get in and dream up some "brain farts" to further cripple the industry whilst their industry fund benefactors continue unabated.

I am afraid you are incorrect.
There is a concerted effort for advice to be driven through robo-advice and controlled by the banks, or intra-fund advice and controlled by the super funds.
Taxes imposed on financial planers, and more compliance, will continue to increase until there are no independently aligned advisers.

That is obviously a concern however as advice is already out of the reach or ordinary Australians due to government imposed compliance costs we look forward to Robo advice. It will be the nursery in our firm for mum and dads until they get big enough, wealthy enough and complex enough to be out of reach for Robo and intra but also to be able to afford our fees. It will also manage our clients kids who get the money when our clients die.

If the compliance doesn't reduce we won't be happy but we can manage it. After 20 years, only 120 clients and $250M in FUM that's only 4.6 reviews per week with 2 AR's, or 2.3 each!

And if everyone gives up and leaves the industry well then we'll be busier than ever which why we are investing in technology to deal with the compliance and portfolio management.

Don't forget the baby boomers are starting to die and this will trigger the biggest wealth transfer in human history.

As I said earlier, look down the long dark tunnel if you can, the future is bright for planning businesses that manage to survive with their professional staff intact.

noted. but if you are smart, then there are a lot of other places you can ply your trade (and you should do that).

you are personally doing fine, but how many people work in your firm?

as you said, 2 partners, 2 advisers where are all the young graduates going to go and work.

good for you though, you are making it work, but that's not the point. others are trying to make. the point others are trying to make is there are better places, don't join financial planning.

but you should remain as you are doing fine and try and serve all the clients by yourself. that is a good plan for you.

So let me get this right. You are saying this about financial planning: a) we are in the middle of a sh%$ 5 year period; b) compliance will get worse; c) low profits for business; d) sub-optimal wage and career opportunities for employees; e) idiotic regulations; f) mental health issues caused by government and regulators.
And despite all of this, you are encouraging young people to join or remain because you think the Government might change their mind and loosen the compliance noose in the future? I like your optimism, but gee I think any young person reading your comments would be as scared as hell by what you have outlined. Frankly, they should be because the points you make about the facts right now (a to f) are spot on. As for future changes, I am not so optimistic. But regardless, no-one should make a career choice based on the hope that there might be radical changes in the future.

Point g) immediately above comment from me, "If the compliance doesn't reduce we won't be happy but we can manage it".

PS point a) the five year period actually started 2 years ago. (my assessment only)

Maybe it's because I'm also a contrarian investor at heart, it's sometimes cold and sometimes lonely but if you are right in the long run riches can abound. And we are quite profitable now so we at least can afford to wait and see.

Anyone else who can stomach the BS that has me and everyone else on this forum riled so much for 3 or so more years may very well be handsomely rewarded. At least I hope I'm right :-) !!

your advice to any young graduate is very bad advice actually.

young people should be encouraged to find a career and a workplace where they are not bullied and intimidated. workplace harassment is illegal by the way.

where they are valued and their work is valued. that they can go to work, do a good day's job and be happy about that.

that place is not in financial planning.

glad you are doing well and it works for you, but it is very bad advice to give to young people. it's like telling my son or daughter to be a politician or worse, a lawyer.

I am in a similar position to yours but luckily diversified so I can exit soon and I would not let my children enter financial planning. they are pursuing other fields where they will be treated with dignity and respect and valued.

as another astute person has said before, FP is a sunset industry. if you realize it now and make a quick exit you will be fine if you linger hoping for better you will miss the boat.

many before you thought 5 years ago it couldn't get any worse. it is isn't it, and many in five years' time, perhaps even yourself will think gee it did get worse.

I think the worse is yet to come, most people don't understand the fight, it's not about financial planners, it's a lot bigger than and I'll let you figure that out. financial planners have just turned up to the gunfight with a knife. go figure of course we will get slaughtered.

This is where I will COMPLETELY disagree with you. If you are a qualified adviser in 2026 or 2027 you will be able to nominate your salary, especially as there appears to be so many like you who will be gone and/or discouraged others from the profession.

There will will be large books without the professional and qualified talent to support them, it will be an auction of planning labour to the highest bidder. It is the biggest threat to our business if our growth rates are a fraction of what they are now in 2-5 years time, finding professional and qualified advisers to service our growing book of clients.

My son has completed his first FP exam yesterday and he has a bright future whether I assist him or not. Anyone with the guts and determination and an ability to really see what's happening without getting caught up in the "woe is me" culture will have not only a well remunerated future but a profession, which when you actually get down to what we do, is help people and be the trusted/guiding go to person for our clients, is immensely personally satisfying, remuneration notwithstanding.

Yes it's totally crap at the moment, it won't always be that way, at least that's what I believe, but by all means leave, convince others not to join, just makes our future easier and more profitable, even if middle Australians are condemned to no advice, crap advice, robo advice, intra advice, this is the tragedy of the current regulatory ineptitude.

Very well said Wildcat. Every developed nation in the world has some form of FP industry (whether tied to product or not). People need advice and are willing to pay for it (albeit richer and richer ones still). In Australia we really are spoilt by having our mandated retirement savings able to be advised on and fees paid out of - no other country's advice industry is built off the back of this to my knowledge. In my view the turning off of commissions, an exam hurdle and a mandated degree is the first step towards actually being respected as a profession, which in turn puts us in a better position to ask clients to pay. Yes, some people will have been affected by this and whether or not some period of education grandfathering would have been more beneficial is unknown. Nevertheless, an advice industry will exist in Australia for years to come I am certain. This will calm down eventually, we just need to hold our nerve.

Regarding compliance, it would do many advisers well to understand that mostly it is their licensee imposing these onerous standards upon them, rather than ASIC themselves. There is an *easy* fix for this and hopefully the industry will gravitate toward that option in the years to come.

As much as I have loved my career up to this point I can't help but agree. The personal risks involved far outweigh the benefits. Better off going into finance or even Accounting where the constant risk of financial and reputational destruction is far lower.

exactly one small mistake and you are on the internet forever. why risk it and take the chance. we also have families, children, and loved ones who we love and respect and we receive their love and respect so our reputations are worth just as much as anyone else's and we are all tired of being kicked in the head all the time.

the regulations in financial advice are unworkable. most already know and that is why half the industry has left and the remaining will do so by the end of the year and then on a regular annual basis to 2026 when there will be virtually no participants left.

you can't have a situation where the adviser is on the noose for everything.

look at the accounting bodes, in the last year, they received a total of 88 complaints from 180,000 accountants. they operate under a limited liability scheme and manage their own profession.

clients can complain but only if they are genuine, most issues are serious if they involve misappropriation of client monies, theft, and fraud as they should be. it's very well managed. ours on the opposite, a total shambolic mess and even that is being very complimentary.

we don't sign an engagement letter or three and we are banned and it's plastered all over the internet.

don't risk it if you are young. go into law or accounting or another profession they would not tolerate a tenth of the rubbish we have to put up with.

A problem I could see coming, with the drive towards 'Professionalism'. Financial Planner is a job title that includes a huge range of roles but not distinct 'levels' within it. As mentioned, Banks are no longer bearing the cost/loss for training new entrants and a young Uni Grad might (like Google etc.) have the information but not the experience. The way to cut your teeth can be dealing with 'product' rather than as much 'strategy', but we don't have that as an entry-level job role anymore. Instead we have a system where it takes years to build the on-the-job skills and new entrants need an employer happy to subsidise them in that journey.

Jemimah says “Financial planning is an attractive career prospect once you get past the salary cut and move into the profession,”. I'm not sure that is a realistic proposition for those in their 40s/50s with significant mortgages still to pay and teenage/adult kids at home. Graduate programs are difficult at the small business level, so it used to be up to the banks to do this. Oh, but the banks largely got out of wealth because they can't turn a profit any more due to the barrage of legislative reform over the past 5 yrs. Not defending their practices, just saying the government is largely to blame for the current situation of lots of experienced (older) advisers leaving, but not having enough incentives (or any) in place to attract graduates to the financial advice sector.

FP is a sunset industry in Australia so don't waste your time here.

everyone is moving on or exiting. very few people will be left and those that are left, are already very successful playing to a very small niche and won't have time to train you.

if you really want to work in the industry get your passport and an e-3 Visa if you have a bachelor's degree you can apply for a job in the US, it's a $27 trillion industry there and they have a fully functioning industry. so try your luck there.

if you want to stay in Aus then try ASIC and dealer groups also they need more compliance people but probably not many jobs will be left after 2026.

good luck!

@ Young adviser,
You've hit the nail on the head.
Why would any current financial planner put on a graduate @$50,000 + in the first year knowing that there's no ROI because they can't talk to a client for the first $12 months.
That's a lot to pay for a coffee maker !
And the most obvious point is, how is that graduate going to learn the art of engagement and how to find a client.

I’m a veteran newspaper journalist who last year graduated with the Griffith masters. The industry became far less attractive over my four years of study and the Federal Government and ASIC implemented various bits of tinkering with a fundamentally defective regulatory structure built on Australian financial advice being financial PRODUCT advice’ at its legal core. In a bid to make this system work, the Fed have then created bizarre regulations that make life hell for the majority who are honest advisers and may (or may not) help combat that undeniable fringe of downright product floggers and crooks attracted to finance-based industries. I’ve made a career reporting scams involving so-called advisers operating under AFSLs. Having seen this disaster from many angles, I feel great sympathy for its victims. Those victims include thousands of honest advisers being forced out.

Neale, I'm sure you have seen some doozy floggers over the years, as have most of us. These increased regulations won't remove all the dishonest ones, just makes them better educated (I do understand that it should exclude / remove the 'fly by nighters' - they will just operate unlicensed..haha). Journalism is in a changed industry as are Financial Planners. I hope you are able to still make a meaningful success of your career change.

Hi Neale,

can you please write a good story about advisers. I have helped many people, buy and pay off their homes and investment. protect their family and livelihoods. build and sell businesses, save money for retirement, and all are retiring comfortably under my care for more than 25 years.

I haven't stolen money from anyone or am not a killer looking to kill or steal. or rape anyone.

many advisers are not killers or rapists. maybe your article could have that title, "financial planners are not serial killers or serial rapists"

do you think that is a good title, I bet you will get lots of click-throughs.

what do you say, Neale? one for the team mate?

Neale! How lovely to hear from someone who actually understands even a little of what we do, such a shame you won't get to work as a financial planner for very long the way the profession is heading. We would love you to write an emotive piece that tries to explain how the layers upon layers of compliance required because of the the government's 'product' advice approach has killed off real advice, brought a whole profession to its knees, and put real advice out of the reach of most Australians!

Having exited the industry - we are still a long way from being a profession - I could not recommend a career in financial planning to anyone. At least not until Advisers are solely responsible for their own advice, without the barriers of Licensee "standards" and certainly not until ASIC are forced by Government to remove 90% of the red tape barriers that get in the way of providing efficient and affordable advice.

We wont put on another adviser. The cost of funding and the risk of compliance is such we will see our own time through and sell for what we can. I am fortunate enough to have divested funds / risk away from the business over the years so I can shut the door an walk away. Sorry young people, you have been sold a pup by the universities and government.

yes, am doing the same, glad I diversified away from the business and will be exiting at the end of the year. thank god.

there were a few sensible suggestions from other posters and i have added a few more to help young grads.

1. go to the usa with an e-3 visa

2. call asic and work there in compliance

3. call dealer groups and work there in compliance

4. call fpa and afa and see if they have a job for you in their student engagement department (remember financial planning is a booming industry wink wink)

5. just go on the dole mate if your income is under the hecs repayment threshold you don't have to pay it back. or go overseas and don't come back the ato will keep track of it for you.

Nothing to see here according to FARSEA.

Once again, ideology as opposed to people with a true understanding of this industry have created a mess. It is a mess. When do the politicians and regulatory bodies admit failure?

Hate to break it to them, but there is no career in financial advice.
Josh Frydenberg (ex bank director) and Jane Hume (ex Australian Super) are actively trying to put non-aligned financial advisers out of business.
They want the Big Banks and Big Super funds to control financial advice and will tax small firms out of business, whilst burying them in red-tape.
Choose a different career.

My son is doing year 12 and when he asked me for career advice 2 years ago I said:
1. do what makes you happy and
2. dont get into financial planning.

Im feeling at ease with this advice given the past 2 years.

Lol! I pretty much said the same to both of my kids :)

“Financial planning is an attractive career prospect once you get past the salary cut and move into the profession,” - To be blunt, no its not.

I am in my mid thirties and been in the industry 15 years. If I had my time again (fresh out of Uni) I would not go into the financial planning industry. There are better, more lucrative industries which are not used as political pawns, and not swamped in over-regulation. Name another industry where you can get sent to jail for not keeping appropriate records? The regulators treat Advisers like children, the politicians and lawmakers don't care, and the media presents all advisers as "shonky" criminals. Seriously, what has this industry become?

actually, I think it's an Australian thing. don't know what it is, chip on the shoulder, convict colony, and past, tall poppy syndrome. but it's everywhere. a sea of incompetence, with bureaucrats running things

medical industry - disaster

energy industry - disaster, ask any electricity or gas retailer

age care - hopeless on the verge of collapse

university system - collapsing

the federal government - sexual harassment and bullying and intimidation everywhere

state government - corrupt

local government - property developers masquerading as councillors

Media - totally corrupt and in shambles

regulators - in shambles

professional associations - hopeless and in shambles

virtually every sector and I have a large clientele of senior professionals from the government and private sector and it's all verging on the disaster.

The only sector working properly well (until now) is the mortgage broking industry. 30,000 participants 200 complaints in the latest afca data release. even that is now going to be under the best interest duty and already heading towards disaster.

tell young graduates and your children to go overseas.

A real estate agent can sell a home for exactly what its worth and get 2% commission eg $20k per million with no added value, no disclosure, conflict of interst by working for both buyer and seller etc.

Not true, they obviously work for the seller and cannot represent two counter parties and be considered professional. The buyers may be duped into thinking they work for them but only if they are naïve.

Wildcat, don't be so innocent.
If a buyer offers an agent $50,000 to get the sell to take $100,000 less, what do you think will happen?
If a buyer is going to rent the property out, would the agent be interested in getting the deal completed so another property can be on the rent roll?
So innocent.

I said being a professional. Taking bribes is not professional. I'm assuming you are an investor and not an adviser? If you are an adviser please leave the industry now so we can become a profession. Integrity doesn't have a price.

Wildcat real estate agents work for the seller up to auction day. Then if they can't get the price they falsely promised the seller they then presssure the seller to reduce price ie start working for the buyer or else no commission. If u dont think this is conflicted then maybe u arent the professional you preach that u are.

Re-read what I wrote, the agent can ONLY work for the seller if they are ethical and professional. Any other action is unprofessional, including assisting the buyer at the expense of the seller.

Its funny that you consider real estate agents to be professionals. Wearing a suit doesnt make you a professional.You obviously don't know how the real estate industry works very well. You probably also think that doing Fasea suddenly makes you ethical.

You have a problem in interpreting English. I never said they were professional, I said for them to be professional they can only act for the seller. There is a very large difference and I suspect it's you that struggles with differences and nuances, especially in language.

Are you saying Real Estate Agents are not professional?

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