Greater promotion of advice to young people, a pathway for international students to work in Australia and more flexibility in the way ASIC licences advisers wanting time off are three ways to attract more advisers to the profession, and advice can be made a more attractive career for females, an industry roundtable has heard.

Speaking at the second Women in Financial Advice roundtable hosted by Professional Planner and the Stella Network, and sponsored by BT Financial Group, Financial Advisers Association of Australia (FAAA) chief executive officer Sarah Abood suggested the industry adopt an extensive program to market the profession to high school students and parents. Abood also urged other roundtable participants to help improve diversity and flexibility, as well as increase understanding of financial advice. She stressed the need for the advice profession to work on its reputation and educate young people about advising because there is currently a lack of understanding.

Sarah Abood

“[This is] something we need to do collectively,” Abood said.

“We need a big campaign about what financial advisers do. Why is this a great career? Why is this a trusted profession? We are marketing to people to take on the profession and we have lacked the individual capacity to do those big brand campaigns because they’re expensive and they need to be maintained for a long time to be effective.”

Zurich Assure head Sandhya Maini said she was eager to help improve industry diversity, flexibility, and financial advice understanding.

“One of the things we have to do is spread awareness,” she said.

“Whether it’s an ad campaign through social media, TikTok videos – whatever it is – we’ve got to reach for Year 10 students because they will be doing subject selection for Year 11. We’ve got to get into their minds that [advising] is equal to, if not probably even better, than accounting.”

Financial advice even appealed to Maini’s 20-year-old daughter.

Sandhya Maini

“[She was initially] working in banks and was enjoying the corporate culture – and then she landed herself into a financial planning business and she’s working as an associate [at] a small business in Sydney,” Maini said.

Maini’s daughter knew about the industry because she was Maini’s child, but the evidence shows that most people do not understand what advisers do.

The “relatively young” team that AFA Group Wealth professional wealth adviser Nicola Hynes works with has thought a lot about reaching out to more universities to make the profession more approachable for graduates.

If firms hire graduates on a part-time basis while they are still studying, they can get insight into the industry, she said.

“It would be a really good way to attract talent.”

Story Wealth Management chief executive and senior financial planner Anne Graham said the reputation of the profession is “still pretty average in the eyes of a lot of consumers” due to the Hayne royal commission and a lack of understanding of what advisers do.