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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