New master’s degree a first for Aussie advisers

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Financial planners now have a way to gain a Master of Financial Planning that is practical, builds on their existing qualifications, and can be done in their own time.

Training organisation Kaplan Professional has just launched its purpose-built master’s qualification that seeks to assist the industry-wide focus on raising standards.

CEO Brian Knight told Wealth Professional the qualification is unique in Australia because it is planning specific and advisers can use their existing subjects as building blocks to reach a master’s level.

“A planner, who may have a diploma, can use these subjects to upgrade to a masters level by doing extra assessments – it’s just another exam, they don’t have to go back and do extra subjects at university,” he said. “If you look at most masters in financial planning they have some content that is planning specific, but a lot of it is more generic in terms of commerce or business that is reconstituted from other faculties. This is completely specific.”

Kaplan has been developing the degree over the past two years, and research included client breakfasts, focus groups, speaking with university groups and industry stalwarts.

The new master’s qualification offers new and existing financial advisers a range of options including RG146 compliance, and has been developed in association with two of the biggest industry representatives.

Currently advisers who have completed an Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning can enrol in the Fellow Chartered Financial Planner designation (FChFP) offered by the AFA, or the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) offered by the Financial Planning Association (FPA).

Now, following on from this, those advisers who have attained the FChFP designation will receive four exemptions (out of the 12 needed for completion) into the Kaplan Master of Financial Planning.

On completion of the Kaplan qualification, advisers will also receive entry into the FPA’s CFP program and exemptions for CFP 2,3 and 4.

“This gives the market a very real and achievable way of up skilling and lifting the qualifications of financial planners, and it’s all built fully online, so they can be doing this while they’re working,” Knight said.

Planners have 12 weeks to complete each subject, however more experienced industry planners who are used to high level assessment will be able to complete a subject in six weeks, he said.

The master’s degree is cost-efficient with each of the 12 subjects costing approximately $2,000 (any lower level degree in Australia usually costs in excess of $30,000), and furthermore those who have already completed a Kaplan subject are just required to pay the gap between the old and new one.

Knight said the new qualification has also been developed with all current, looming, and potential legislation changes in mind, including being re-written in association with the Tax Institute to ensure it’s compliant with upcoming TASA laws.

“We’ve made sure that anything that could come through can be updated. All the content is completely new and up-to-date, and all of this will pick up any changes as they come through,” he said. “Everyone in the industry keeps talking about doing something about education, but we actually wanted to do something about it, and lead it.”


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