Like many in the financial planning industry, I fell into financial planning knowing very little about the industry or what it did. I completed a Degree before entering the industry, although it was not a requirement. In fact, I know several people who left school at Year 10, joined a financial planning practice in an admin/support role, and went on to become successful Financial Planners.
In the past, the “best” Financial Advisers were mostly the best Salespeople. There were no education requirements or barriers to entry, and so the excellent remuneration and “lifestyle” of the industry attracted a variety of people.
However, this has changed. The Hayne Banking Royal Commissions shone alight on the darkest corners of the industry and out of this Commission a new industry is evolving.
The Financial Planning industry has undergone significant change over the last 18 months – since 1st January 2019, anyone wanting to become a Financial Planner must complete an approved Degree, undertake a Professional Year, and pass a National Exam.
Why now is the best time ever to become a Financial Planner
The financial planning industry is going through a once-in-a-lifetime evolution. The magnitude of change is significant, and the opportunities abundant. It is almost the perfect storm in terms of industry renewal – increased regulation, higher education, resistance from incumbents, and the challenges of recession.
With the implementation of a raft of regulatory and legislative changes thrust upon the industry, there has never been a better time for High School students and University Graduates to consider a career in financial planning.
With such an immense amount of change and upheaval, established Financial Planners are leaving the industry in their droves. This creates an enormous opportunity for “new blood” to become the next generation of Financial Planners.
Pathways to a Career in Financial Planning
The world of superannuation, investments and insurance is complex and confusing. Ordinary Australians are too busy living their lives to be able to decipher and decode how best to build wealth over time, protect it against unforeseen adversity, and prepare for retirement. This is where a Financial Planner can help.
A career in financial planning offers personal and professional satisfaction. It offers excellent salaries and a working environment the envy of most other industries. Relative to other Professions (such as Law, Accounting, and Medicine) the hours in financial planning are normal and the work-life balance is, well, more balanced.
If you truly have a passion for helping others, then financial planning is a career in which you can make a huge and positive impact on the lives of ordinary Australians.
There’s more than one way to skin a cat
There are a few ways to enter the financial planning industry. When considering these pathways, be aware that life experience is an important factor and, more often than not, someone straight out of university is not going to be a client-facing Financial Planner from day one.
The entry pathways are:
- Pathway One – Complete an Approved Undergraduate
- Pathway Two – Complete an Approved Postgraduate
- Pathway Three – Complete Vocational Qualifications (Diploma & Advanced Diploma) whilst working in the industry and apply these as Credits against Pathway One. The “earn as you learn”
In the past, the next generation was sourced from Career Changers. This is no longer the case. The education pathway and barriers to entry are now too high for Career Changes to contemplate. They are typically in their early to mid 30s, have family and lifestyle commitments, and cannot afford the time or money to reeducate themselves and start afresh in an unfamiliar industry.
The next generation of Financial Planners must be High School and University Graduates. Individuals will enter the industry directly from university or by working in a practice and upskilling part-time, completing an approved Degree and then working in support roles for a few of years before being offered a Professional Year place.
What does this mean? A career in financial planning is accessible to anyone who sets their mind to it. People often transition from careers with a heavy focus on helping others such as hospitality, retail, teaching, nursing, etc.
Is Financial Planning the “ugly cousin” to the other Professions?
Lawyers, Engineers, Doctors, and other professionals kills themselves to get top grades in high school to get a place in a top university. They then kill themselves for a second time, trying to top their class to be offered the best Graduate positions at the top firms. Then, if successful, they are expected to kill themselves for a third time by working ridiculous hours and be totally consumed by the hyper-competitive workplace.
Something has to give, and often it does.
I have lost count of how many times I’ve seen people go through all of this self-inflicted pressure, only to leave their Profession within a few years due to the negative impact it is having on their physical and mental health, and relationships. The cost can be enormous – the work of securing a university place, the monetary cost of the Degree, the mental and physical anguish, the loss of relationships and friends.
Some ultimately find their way into financial planning because of their fundamental desire to have a career where they can help others, and still have a life of their own. The irony is that the pathway to where they find themselves need not have been so tough.
Financial Planning helps you grow
A career in financial planning helps you explore your own set of values and identify what’s important to you. As a Financial Planner, you get to see all aspects of society through the lens of other people’s lives. It helps put your own life in perspective as you are always dealing with different clients, at different stages of their lives.
Financial planning offers excellent remuneration, the ability to be intellectually and personally challenge, great working hours and lifestyle balance, a career as a Professional, and for those seeking something more, the ability to one day start your own Practice. It is an evolving profession that offers a sustainable career based on helping others over their life journey.
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