The Professional Adviser

The Financial Advice profession is sometimes called the “unknown” profession.  For many high school student and university graduates, there is a complete lack of awareness about financial planning as a career.  With no clear and reputable pathway to the profession until recently, it was a confusing journey to navigate.  When coupled with corporate greed and contempt for clients highlighted by the Hayne Royal commission, the profession has a major trust deficit.  No right-minded parent would be recommending their children pursue such a career.

But, ironically, these are the exact reason why now is the perfect time for high school students, university graduates and career changes to pursue a career as a Financial Planner.  Many Advisers are leaving the industry, and the reality is that the need and demand by clients for quality financial advice will not diminish. In fact, it will increase – with COVID-19 implications, changed working conditions, and the challenges of recession.

Financial Advice as a Profession

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. 

Education Pathways in to Financial Advice

Anyone wanting to pursue a career in financial planning (known as a “New Entrant”) must enter via one of a few pre-determined education pathways.   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 Degree
  • Pathway Two – Work in the industry, complete Vocational Qualifications (Diploma & Advanced Diploma), and apply these as Credits against Pathway One. The “earn as you learn” approach.
  • Pathway Three – Complete an Approved Postgraduate Degree

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.