Mandatory degree another step towards professionalism

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The Financial Planning Association (FPA) continues to push for advising to be recognised as a profession, and hope their new mandatory degree requirement will be a step in the right direction.

Two years ago the FPA launched the initiative, which will kick in from 1 July this year. Currently, financial planners must sign a professional code of conduct and ethics, have a diploma qualification and one year’s work experience to become a practitioner member. From 1 July 2013, it will also be mandatory for new members to have an approved degree qualification (or other degree with an approved bridging course). Current members will not be forced to gain the degree, says FPA CEO Mark Rantall.

After the announcement of new legislation to enshrine the terms “financial planner/adviser” yesterday, many advisers called for mandatory membership of an association such as the FPA. Rantall says that while the legislation is a good first step, the FPA is still of the view that “if financial planning wants to be regarded as a profession, then it is important that everybody is part of a professional community and signs up to a professional association”.

He says that if the financial planning sector is serious about being regarded as a respected profession, then at some point, a minimum degree requirement will be essential. “As we all know, RG146 as an entry standard to advise people about their life and financial affairs, is too low a standard.”

There has been a trend towards people choosing financial planning as a career path from university, rather than ending up in it at a later stage in life. A newly established financial planning council has worked with 17 universities across the country to define and approve curriculum for financial planning courses.

Rantall says it was a great move forward in achieving the professional pathways that other professions already had in place. “In the last few years we’ve made some quite amazing strides towards the infrastructure that’s required to put in place a respected profession.”

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  • Louise Drolz on 24/03/2013 1:46:24 PM

    I was very pleased to see the FPA raising the bar for admittance but then utterly disgusted to see them tout for business from those whom they would reject come 1 July 2013.

    Imagine if you discovered that, immediately prior to launching its iconic "Fish that John West rejects" campaign, John West went around and bought up and canned all the existing stock of cheap, rejectable salmon?

  • Ben on 22/03/2013 10:22:38 PM

    Phil - what about the other 10%? I happen to have worked damn hard to obtain my CFP status (and DFP for that matter) so your comments are insulting to me and those that have genuinely worked to achieve this status. I will say I believe that 90%, as you put it, should have done something in order to obtain it, as I have come across many CFP's who don't even know the basics about financial planning.

  • Patrick Canion on 22/03/2013 11:18:28 AM

    Phil - You are right, the FPA do seek the input of members in developing policy, they do charge membership fees, and its purpose is(in part)to promote its members and their services.
    The good news is that membership is optional. Your point is?

  • John Robinson on 22/03/2013 11:07:42 AM

    This is just another money grab by the FPA, the FPA needs to grow a pair and give members value for money by fighting for it's members against all these ridiculous regulations. Too late for that though, too busy working on how to manipulate more money out of people !!!!

  • Phil on 22/03/2013 9:57:44 AM

    Patrick, of course 'most FPA member are strongly in favour' because only accepting new members whom are degree qualified will give the impression the public that all FPA members are degree qualified. Much the same as the CFP designation, the public will forget that 90% were freely handed due to 'experience'. . . oh and of course the FPA require an ongoing fee for the designation.

  • Patrick Canion on 21/03/2013 7:31:55 PM

    Is a caterpillar a contradiction to a butterfly? This is just an evolution in the entry standards for practitioner membership to the FPA - one that most FPA members are strongly in favour of. And, regardless of educational standards, all members agree to comply with the FPA code of professional conduct.

  • DMC on 21/03/2013 4:35:27 PM

    I am an FPA member (for over a decade now) and I do not hold a degree. A degree does not create professionalism. In order to act in a professional manner one does not require a degree. Professionalism comes from within. The only true measure of professionalism is the judgment of those receiving it not those demonstrating it. Sure make rules around it but do not preclude those who have what it takes to be a professional as defined in the dictionary and that is the skill, competence and character expected of a member of a highly trained profession. These attributes come from more than just academia. It was once far easier to attain the designation of CFP that it is today. Not being a member of an association does not mean a person is not a member of a profession.

  • DL on 21/03/2013 12:55:08 PM

    Whilst i have a degree, i find the FPA totally contradicts itself, on one side they are saying they want to lift the professional standards with the introduction of needing a degree...

    But they have been publicly advertising that everyone without a degree should sign up now before their rules kick in...

    This is nothing more than a strategy to boost membership.

  • GAB on 21/03/2013 11:38:42 AM

    In my opinion the FPA board need to do a course on professionalism. Maybe then they'll learn not to cut dodgy deals with David Whitely and the ISN. I have business degree and a Masters, but joining the FPA is far from my list of priorities. I'd rather obey opt-in than sign up to their code of conduct.

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