Filling the Gaps

If you are serious about delivering truly com­prehensive service to your clients, undertaking an advanced or graduate diploma is essential.

While a diploma is the approved ASIC training pathway under RG 146, it won’t provide in-depth training in areas such as estate planning, taxation and the delivery of more advanced financial plan­ning and investment models.

And, according to John Prowse, managing director of Pinnacle Financial Services Academy, courses that cover issues such as how to set up a fee-for-service practice are “thin on the ground” at the moment.

“Quite a few of the challenges you’ll face won’t be unique to this industry so banks and govern­ment agencies can be good sources of information about starting up a small business but we will certainly be looking at developing content in this area within the next year,” says Prowse.

As a new entrant in the financial planning training arena, Pinnacle currently offers a diploma and advanced diploma and has recently purchased two graduate diplomas from FINSIA, one for financial planners and one for responsible officers within dealer groups.

“We will be pitching those courses at the same level as the CFP or graduate diplomas currently on offer,” he says.

CPD is another area of great interest for Prowse: “Recognition of prior learning is essential in a modern dynamic economy,” he says, adding that the three essential components of continuing professional development are “to maintain, update and develop skills.

“It is an antiquated notion that you spend three years at university and get signed off for life. There needs to be a process for finding out what compe­tencies still exist and what training is needed to fill the gaps.”

According to Prowse, there has been criticism of the management of ASIC’s training register which can make it difficult for planners to select a good training provider.

“The length of time a course will take and how it will be assessed are good indicators. If you want to make a difference, avoid people who advertise ‘diploma in eight days and no assessment’,” Prowse adds. — Jackie Pearson

Ethical Education

Completing an ethical investment certification course through the Ethical Investment Association is a marketing edge thousands of financial advisers are missing out on.

While ethical investing expertise may not be what every financial adviser needs, the probability of a client wanting to invest in accordance with their personal values is growing.

The EIA, a professional membership organisa­tion for those working in Sustainable Responsible Investment, offers a certificate that allows a finan­cial adviser to wear an ethical investment badge alongside their firm’s brand – a bit like the Heart Foundation tick for healthy food.

The course is only intended as an introduction to the field. It is comprised of 11 modules including how to create an ethical profile of your client, what products and approaches are available, how to do an ethical analysis on direct shares, constructing a portfolio and how ethical investment performance compares with mainstream investments.

Achieving the certificate involves an online course which takes about three hours to complete. The course includes role playing and an assess­ment. To date, only 28 advisers have received the certificate.

Financial advisers were the primary group behind the EIA’s establishment in 1999. Licensees, fund managers and super funds can also join as members and gain a certification symbol, although the process differs for each group. 

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