Career Starter pathways

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:

  • 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 (entry requirements apply).

All pathways also require a New Entrant to complete a Professional Year Program and pass the national FASEA Exam before being registered on the ASIC Financial Adviser Register as a Financial Planner. Let’s explore each of these pathways using a real-world example.

Pathway One:  FASEA approved Degree direct entry from high school

Jacqui was a good student in high school and achieved an ATAR of 95.  The subjects she excelled in were maths, english, economics and legal studies.

Jacqui is highly analytical, good at writing essays and reports, and is caring in nature.  Her parents would like her to use her high ATAR to enrol in a Law Degree.  However, Jacqui has decided not to pursue a career in law as she has some family friends who are lawyers and feels the work-life balance does not suit what she wants in her life.

Jacqui considered accounting, marketing, and financial planning as three possible career paths.  Ultimately, Jacqui decided to pursue a career in financial planning.  The reason was simple – a few years ago, Jacqui’s uncle suffered a stroke and was unable to work.  He had a financial planner who had arranged personal insurances for her uncle prior to the stroke.  As a result, her uncle and his family were looked after financially, and her uncle was able to focus on getting better.

The financial planner was actively involved in helping her uncle make the insurance claim and working out the financial implications.  Jacqui never forgot this and came to realise that this level of positive impact on another person’s life is something she wanted in her choice of career. 

So, Jacqui decided to complete a Bachelor of Commerce (major in financial planning).  The degree was a FASEA approved program, and she understood the remaining hurdles she would need to complete before becoming a Financial Planner were:

  • Complete a twelve-month Professional Year Program
  • Pass the national FASEA Adviser Exam during her Professional Year.

How did Jacqui move from study to a career?

  1. It took Jacqui three years full-time study to complete her degree. Her course debt at the end was $36,000 which will be paid off through HECS.
  1. She was 21 at the time of her graduation. She was able to secure an “Associate Adviser” role in a small financial planning practice where she completed some part-time intern work during her degree, about a thirty-minute drive from her home.
  1. The initial salary package was $55,000 (including superannuation).
  1. Jacqui worked in the Associate Adviser role for two years, during which time she was mentored by the Practice Principal and learned an enormous amount about how a financial planning practice operates.
  1. Her boss registered her for the Professional Year (PY) Program at the beginning of her third year in the Associate Adviser role. Jacqui was 23 years old when she commenced her PY.
  1. Jacqui completed her Professional Year and passed the national FASEA Exam halfway through the PY.
  1. After completing the PY, Jacqui decided to take a six-month career break to travel overseas and “chill out” as she had not had a proper break in years.
  1. Jacqui returned to the same advice practice and shortly after her 25th birthday, she was registered on the ASIC Financial Adviser Register as a Financial Planner.
  1. Her salary package was now $88,000 (including superannuation).

Pathway Two:  Full-time work, part-time vocational studies, and then part-time university degree

Steve went to school with Jacqui, although they had a different circle of friends.  Steve liked school and was happy with his final years’ effort, although his ATAR score (70) was not enough to pursue any degrees that were of interest to him.

Feeling a little burnt out after high school, he decided to get a full-time job while he worked out what he “wanted to do with his life”.  A family friend was a Financial Planner who had his own practice and was looking for a Client Services Officer (CSO).  Steve took the job thinking it would be a good way to earn some money while he figured his life out.  His starting package was $50,000 (including superannuation).

After six months in the role, Steve developed a keen interest for financial planning as a career.  He liked the fact you could help ordinary people manage very complex situations and build a profitable business around it.  Steve also noticed that office hours were 8.30am to 5.30pm and there were no after-hours work commitments.  It seemed to be a career that offered a good work-life balance and promoted ongoing learning through Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

After a conversation with his boss, Steve decided to complete a vocational qualification called the Diploma of Financial Planning offered through a Registered Training Organization (RTO). It was a twelve-month program, delivered online with optional face to face sessions, and it would give Steve an insight in to whether financial advice was the career for him.  As Steve’s highest qualification was his High School Certificate, he was eligible for Government Funding, so the Diploma course did not cost him or his employer anything out of pocket.

Steve completed the Diploma of Financial Planning in 12 months and was 19 years of age when he graduated.  He enjoyed the studies and so his boss suggested he complete the Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning.  Once again, given it’s a vocational qualification, he was eligible for Government funding and the course did not cost him or his employer anything out of pocket.  The course duration was twelve months.

Steve completed the Advanced Diploma in twelve months and was 20 years of age when he graduated.  At this stage, he was offered the role of Associate Adviser in the practice on a salary package of $65,000 (including superannuation).  Steve indicated he wanted to take a six-month career break to travel Europe with some friends, so he and his boss mapped out a career plan for when he returned.  Steve would be 21 years old when he returned

The plan was:

  1. Upon his return, Steve would take on the role of “Associate Adviser” role on a remuneration package of $65,000, (including superannuation).
  1. Steve would apply to university as a mature age student (21 years or older) in the Bachelor of Commerce (major in financial planning) which was a FASEA approved program. Steve would seek 12 credits from the university towards a 24-credit degree, based on his Diploma and Advanced Diploma qualifications.  This meant he may only need to complete 12 more subjects. The university offered trimesters and Steve intended to work and study part-time to complete the remaining 12 subjects within 2 years.
  1. Steve completed the degree shortly after his 23rd birthday. His course debt at the end was $18,000 which will be paid off through HECS.
  1. Steve’s boss registered him for the Professional Year (PY) Program. Steve passed the national FASEA Exam halfway through the PY and completed his Professional Year on time. Steve was 24 years of age at the end of the PY and was registered on the ASIC Financial Adviser Register by his boss.
  1. Steve was promoted to the role of Financial Planner and his salary package increased to $88,000 (including superannuation).