Mark Brimble (left) and Michelle Cull

Most established professions enjoy a symbiotic relationship between practitioners and academics.

Academics and practitioners identify topics and issues for research, academics conduct research under strictly controlled and rigorous processes, and the outcome of the research often informs professional practice. Then as practice develops, new research topics arise. And so it goes.

However, the body of knowledge that underpins financial advice is thin compared to other professions but is growing.

The Financial Advice Association Congress, which will held on 20-22 November in Adelaide with Professional Planner as the media partner, will hear why it’s critical the profession and academia work closely together to expand it in a session chaired by Western Sydney University associate professor Michelle Cull.

Academics are looked upon with a degree of scepticism in some quarters – especially those who believe academic theory is a waste of time and that practical experience a like-for-like substitute for formal academic qualifications and continuing professional development.

But Cull tells Professional Planner that “theory is central to the development of a profession”.

“I do like to see it as a cycle, because practice informs theory and theory informs practice,” she says.

“We need to conduct research, because although we might have people who think a particular topic is common knowledge, how do we actually define knowledge? If one person believes that is the case, is it actually the majority view? Or is it a minority view? Where’s the data, where’s the evidence to support that?”

Cull says one of the objectives of the FAAA Congress session, ‘Theory into practice: Applying academic research’ being held on Tuesday midday, is to make advisers aware of the scope and depth of research and other work taking place inside Australia’s academic institutions.

“We’ve picked four different topics that will be presented,” she says.

“I don’t want to give those away now [but] we’re actually going to be asking the audience to vote. It will be a bit of a Shark Tank-type of approach. We’ll be asking them to vote on which one would they give their money to.”

Cull is referring to the reality television series where potential business ideas are floated to a panel of investors.

Cull adds the panellists want to show the research is not just theoretical, but also has a practical implication.

“We will follow up the Shark Tank-style event with a bit of a panel session. We will talk to the presenters around how did they come up with their research project? How can advisers help them in the future? How else can we best work together?”