Online learning business knowITdigital has partnered with Monarch Institute to roll out a diploma and advanced diploma of financial planning for the 4000 subscribers to its wealthdigital tool, with content set to cover a broad spectrum from behavioural science to policy.

The fintech firm’s offering will be designed as the first step in preparing planners or prospective planners for the new education standards, due to become mandatory from 2019. The firm also plans to replicate the model for the accounting profession eventually.

Monarch Institute chief operating officer Nick Chapman says the courses will merge practical elements and soft skills with the more traditional, technical content you would expect from a qualification. He says course fees have not yet been formalised, but will be “competitive”.

wealthdigital – recently rebranded from Desk Caddie – is knowIT’s key adviser tool. It functions as a library of compliance and technical information. Chief executive of knowIT, Wayne Wilson, says the partnership with Monarch aligns with the fintech’s strategic plans to broaden its content offering.

“The value proposition for us is the connecting the wealthdigital capability with Monarch and the fact that we already have a distribution footprint of 4000 users and Monarch has a unit list that is quite complementary to that user base,” Wilson explains. “It means we can get our message out there quite efficiently.”

Wilson says wealthdigital isn’t a ‘tick a box’ platform for planners to prove their compliance, but rather an ongoing learning tool. In that sense, he says, he doesn’t see it as competing with other education providers, such as Kaplan.

“For most financial planners, ongoing professional development has meant getting 20 or 40 continuing professional development points and ticking the box along the way. [They] don’t get CPD points, or not many, for going along to a course that teaches them how to [do things like] increase business efficiency using CRM. And all of those things contribute to whether [they] have a profitable business that can attract staff and deliver a good service,” he adds.

KnowIT acquired Desk Caddie from Louise Biti and Assyat David late last year, when it was Strategy Steps’ online tool. Biti and David acquired it in 2010.

Wilson says the tool’s number of users has hovered around the 4000 mark for about a decade, but the business hopes to improve on that with its new programs. He sees a natural correlation between the offering and independent financial advisers, or prospective IFAs, looking to expand.

“We’re seeing a lot of demand from that medium [Australian Financial Services Licence] space, where they’re trying to have more of a comprehensive value proposition to attract advisers,” he says.