Financial Planning – shining a light on the “unknown” Profession

When students consider their options post-high school the traditional framework has been university, an apprenticeship, vocational study, or entering the workforce.  With university the coveted degrees include Medicine, Law, Engineering, Nursing, Teaching, Commerce or Arts. 

Financial planning is simply not on the radar.  There is a complete lack of awareness about financial planning as a career, and this may be influenced by some parents being jaded by the media coverage of the Hayne Royal Commission.  Few, if any, are aware of the FASEA Standards legislated in March 2017 and being implemented since 1st January 2019.

It all starts with the School Curriculum

What do the university degrees of Medicine, Law, Engineering, Science, Business/Commerce and Arts have in common?

They all have subjects embedded into the high school curriculum.  For example:

  • Accounting and Business subjects align with Accounting and Commerce degrees
  • Science subjects align with Medicine and Science degree
  • English and Legal Studies subjects align with Law degrees
  • Maths subjects align with Engineering, Science and Accounting degrees

These degrees are well understood, and the professions have history.  This provides a level of comfort and understanding when students are deciding on which career pathways to pursue.

There are no subjects in the high school curriculum that align directly to a Financial Planning degree pathway.  Much has been written about the lack of financial literacy taught in high schools and it is surprising that with many high school students already having a superannuation account, little is taught about the area of financial planning.  

As the saying goes, “Out of mind.  Out of sight.”  

Equation for “How to build a career in Financial Planning”

If I was asked to create an equation on “How to build a career in Financial Planning” it would look something like this:

Career = Education Entry^ + Study + Work Experience + Salary + Compliance + Balanced Lifestyle + Personal fulfilment

^ Anyone pursuing a career in financial planning must enter via pre-determined education pathways:

  • Pathway One – Complete an Approved Undergraduate
  • Pathway Two – Complete an Approved Postgraduate Degree (entry requirements apply).
  • Pathway Three – Complete Vocational Qualifications (Diploma & Advanced Diploma) and apply these as Credits against Pathway One. The “earn as you learn”

Professions are a calling – Financial Planning needs to SHOUT OUT LOUD!

The next generation of advisers need to be enticed by an industry-led approach. 

High schools have no incentive to promote an industry they know little about.  Universities have only recently come to the party to meet the need for new entrants to complete a FASEA approved degree, and some argue universities have been more focused on the lucrative post-graduate market of Existing Advisers. The industry associations have also been focused on the plethora of issues concerning Existing Financial Advisers, which may have been at the cost of engaging with the possible next generation of financial advisers.

The reality is financial planning is a personally fulfilling and financially rewarding career.  Being a financial adviser combines an interest in law, with a passion for numbers, and a personal desire to help ordinary Australians understand the sometimes-complex world of finance.  Almost every working Australian has a superannuation fund which, for many, becomes the second biggest asset over their lifetime.   Financial advice is crucial to helping people manage and maximise the benefits from this, and to provide a safety net in retirement.

The attractiveness of a career in financial planning lies in its broad societal need and beneficial impacts.  Much of what a practitioner does is centred around about helping people, based on a blend of professional expertise and common-sense.  It’s not an adversarial setting like law, and it does not involve constantly dealing with sick or injured people like medicine. It’s arguably more exciting than accounting, and as personally rewarding as teaching or nursing. 

Financial planning offers excellent remuneration, the ability to be intellectually and personally challenged, great working hours, lifestyle balance, a career as a Professional, and for those seeking something more, the ability to one day start your own Practice.   When compared to other professions (such as Law, Accounting, and Medicine), financial planning offers an exceptional career on so many levels.  

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