Education standards aren’t set in stone yet but advisers know enough about what is required to start planning their next steps, several high-profile advisers have said.

Liam Shorte, director at Verante Financial Planning and Self-managed Superannuation Fund Association board member, spoke at the Professional Planner Best Practice Forum on the importance of planning education schedules to protect the advice practice.

“Self-employed businesses need to look at it as a five-year plan because what they need to incorporate is how their business is going to run over those five years,” he said.

Shorte explained that advisers need to consider how they’re going to incorporate the training, and assess if it would be better to do the training early, “drip-feed” it over the five years, or do it at the end. Fitting compliance with the education standards around the needs of the practice is the goal, he said.

“It’s really important that their business doesn’t suffer at the end because of the business requirements,” Shorte said.

Michelle Cull, director of academic program, accounting and financial planning, at Western Sydney University, said advisers should already be making calls to education providers, even though they don’t know the exact requirements yet.

“Advisers should start looking at their options, maybe plan for the worst-case scenario,” Cull said. “Shop around a bit and ask questions. Contact the universities, find out about any academic credit advisers might be able to claim, and put in some applications to just get the ball rolling so it’s all ready to go.”

The Financial Planning Association took a more relaxed approach at the forum. Ben Marshan, head of policy and government relations, suggested advisers might be better off putting their educations on hold for now.

“At the moment, the FPA’s recommending that we just wait and see,” Marshan said. “The standards are still in proposal phase and we still don’t have certainty around which universities are going to have pathways approved, what the exam’s going to look like, and what the other standards will look like.”

Help on the way

Shorte, Cull and Marshan all spoke on a panel called,” Back to School: Education Revolution for Advisers”. They agreed that advisers would have multiple avenues for assistance navigating the education standards.

“Help’s going to come from everywhere,” Marshan said. “There are large communities of advisers that are getting together to help support one another. The FPA is doing a lot of work and we’ve got a project to help our members transition through to education and sitting the exam and understanding what their requirements are. The universities I know are putting a lot of work into helping people who are coming back to university after a long time or have never been there understand what university is like in 2018.”

Shorte thinks it will be incumbent on the professional associations to step up and act as a link between advisers and educational institutions.

“The associations will be the main ones that help,” Shorte asserted. “I know the FPA and the SMSFA are both in contact with the education providers and trying to collate all the information so people can see their options.”

Marshan said advisers should be encouraged to reach out and ask for help.

“Be it colleagues, be it the associations, be it the universities themselves, there will be a lot of people who will be helping financial planners transition through these education standards over the next five years.”

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Tahn Sharpe is a Sydney-based financial services journalist with a background in financial planning. He writes on advice, superannuation, investment, banking and insurance issues, is a certified SMSF Adviser and holds an Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning.