Do Australian planners lack skills?

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Concerns have been raised that financial services firms need to source talent from overseas if they want innovation and highly skilled professionals. The comments came after the Federal Government’s proposed tightening of 457 visas. Meanwhile, the NSW Government is urging for greater flexibility to attract more international talent into financial services - NSW’s biggest employment sector.

The changes ensure that temporary skilled workers only come from overseas when there is genuinely no local worker who can fill the job.

George McFerran, eFinancialCareers managing director Asia Pacific said the changes could harm the financial services sector as it relies heavily on the flow of talent across Asia and the innovation that international workers bring to the Australian economy.

“It needs to be recognised financial services is an international career and by further restricting visa classes for skilled migration, we’re hampering the flow of talent from Asia-pacific to Australia. This will make Sydney less competitive as a finance destination,” said McFerran.

He said that restricting access to highly skilled foreign professionals, and the innovation they bring, could prove a challenge: “It will need to be managed to avoid harming productivity at the same time that the Government is trying to increase it.”

While McFerran points particularly to fund managers, financial planners are also indicating a lack of experience available in the sector.

Independent financial adviser Matthew Ross said the biggest problem facing his firm last month was finding quality people that could hit the ground running. “I can’t just bring someone in and say ‘you’ve got the next three years to bring yourself up to scratch’. I just haven’t got the time for them; to take that risk on that they’re not going to perform…so it’s either, I go without, and grow slowly, or what we’re doing is training up people.”

He said the good people were out there, but they were stuck without training, support and nurturing to turn into great advisers. “I don’t believe that they’re getting the right training where they are at the moment and a lot of people are giving up on financial planning because it’s becoming a sales job.”

Pamela McDonald, senior financial services operations consultant at Robert Walters recruitment said there has been an increase in movement in the planning industry: “Some [planners] have been working for smaller companies and are looking to move into larger organisations to have the ‘big brand name’ behind them. The level of qualification and experience required to move into these roles is very comprehensive and the interview and testing process is quite long so making the move is difficult. On the other hand there are some planners looking to move from the larger firms as they are unhappy with current referral and commission structures.

"There is always demand for fully qualified and experienced paraplanners and financial planners. The shortage of roles is not an issue; it’s finding the level of candidate that the client requires from both an experience and qualification perspective."


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