Limited Advice Should Not Require Degree Qualification


Advisers who provide limited advice, including life insurance advisers, should not be required to undertake the same level of training as full service or holistic advisers according to the head of financial services training provider.

Mentor Education, Principal, Mark Sinclair
Mentor Education, Principal, Mark Sinclair

Mentor Education, Principal, Dr Mark Sinclair said proposals to lift education, currently in draft legislation before Federal parliament, were long overdue but they should not create new hurdles for advisers who will only ever provide limited advice.

“It makes no sense for those who provide limited advice, such as life insurance advisers, accountants providing superannuation advice, those who provide broking services, to do a full 24 unit bachelor level course,” Sinclair said.

“It makes no sense for those who provide limited advice, such as life insurance advisers…to do a full 24 unit bachelor level course”

“If advisers are going to provide limited advice then they should be trained in the relevant core subjects to that advice, in the area of ethics and in the area of business and markets so they can understand the sector they have chosen to specialise in. Why make an adviser do a course for an area of unrelated advice?,” he said.

Sinclair also stated adviser association post-nominal qualifications should not be considered as ‘degree equivalents’ and calling them such would leave the advice industry open to ridicule stating, “If we play games with qualifications we just give ammunition to our critics at a time when a holistic adviser should be holding an actual degree”.

However, Sinclair said the four credits of the post nominal course together with the eight subjects in an Advanced Diploma course could be used as credits or exemptions towards a 24 subject Bachelor’s degree.

He also stated that while related qualifications – such as commerce or economics – may be used to enter the financial advice profession, under the new legislation advisers with these qualifications should be restricted to limited advice until they have attained a Bachelor of Financial Planning, with 24 relevant financial planning subjects.

“Of the 41 courses offered as pathways into financial advice none are offered as a distinct Bachelor of Financial Planning. They tend to be commerce or economics degrees with financial advice units added, which makes the financial advice training no different than a Diploma or Advanced Diploma,” Sinclair said.

“While acknowledging there is angst amongst some sections, the reality is the financial advice industry simply cannot progress further, and take its place alongside trusted advisers such as accountants, lawyers, doctors, teachers, etc., without appropriate and benchmarked higher education academic qualifications,”

He said any new education requirements “…should be contemporary and appropriate to both existing advisers and new industry entrants” with a three year transition period to allow existing advisers, many who would already have around half of the necessary training, sufficient time to meet the higher benchmark.


  1. Completely agree! Used car salesman can sell insurance and home, contents, car and health Insurance don’t need anyone to sell them!

    • Degree or No degree The point of all this is being missed. Go back and read Jeremy’s article. I have been in the industry for 40 years I have my qualifications and constantly keep ugrading them with Kaplan and other training because I like to learn!!! If its got to be pushed down my throat it makes it far less appealing. You need to because advice products and legislation are always changing. Don’t we have enough to do in making sure our advice is sound by researching the information we need and putting it in our SOA’S for all the world to see ! and you need to stay on top but Degrees? If this continues we will all be the most educated people on the “Dole” cue as there is no time left to service the consumer everyone is supposedly so concerned about !
      You don’t need a degree for risk sales It is all about making people understand the issues and problems they create themselves by taking our Australian attitude “she’ll be right” No matter how many frames you have hanging on your wall if you do not understand people and what they go through day after day in trying to make ends meet the figures the elaborate business cards with CFP AFA ETC ETC MEAN NOTHING TO THEM ! THEY WANT SOMEONE THEY CAN TRUST AND BE GUIDED BY. Clients work you out very quickly as that is their first priority ! Who is this person I am dealing with Will he understand me.
      This whole mess that started because of a dubious report at best continues to spiral out of control. Kaplan {whom by the way I respect enormously} must be licking their lips at this opportunity

      • Well said KEN (and Jeremy!). Wish I could grab some of these other commenters sometimes and shake them until they understand the sort of things you and Jeremy have so clearly articulated, as you both normally do! Just boggles my mind how some of the commenters here say the things they say which fly in the obvious face of the clarity of comments like yours & JW’s. I love what you said about us being the most educated people on the dole queue. It’s true! The idiocy of legislators, vested interest groups and life companies will see us unable to continue or bring in new advisers. They all need some time OUT OF THEIR COMFY OFFICES and in the field with the clients they purport to be helping. Client best interest is only an academic term to most of these office bound jokers. It does not exist in all these changes being pushed through – ANYWHERE! God knows what they are thinking as they stuff the industry for good. Pooing in your own back yard – nothing less are these self-interested greedy fools doing.

  2. If we’re going to limit the advice and the training of those advisers then let’s call a spade a spade. They’re not financial advisers, they are Super and Insurance salesmen

  3. If we want to have professional advisers not just sales people and bank stooges then we should all be degree qualified. Every other professional occupation requires a degree to practice, why not ours? If you already hold a license then you should be grandfathered but going forward all everyone giving advice on the financial security of Australians should have a university degree as a minimum.

    This would also make it harder for the direct insurers to operate as they would have to hire intelligent and qualified people, which would benefit all Asutralia as it would be more expensive for them to sell their JUNK policies direct to the public.

    • Yep great idea Ben. One problem, all those Storm advisers had degrees, were members of FPA etc, so in your vernacular “professionals”.
      Sorry, no way does a degree make a “professional”, ever heard of dodgy accountants, lawyers, doctors etc

      • Many Storm advisers only had bare PS146 accreditation. Past footballers and the principle had a background in risk . I’m all for degrees for advisers.

    • We need to start somewhere, so ensuring new advisers hold a relevant degree and complete a professional year is a great idea. But forcing advisers who have long years of client interaction, life experience and current, relevant industry qualifications is not necessary. An annual exam to test our knowledge should be good enough.

      After all, Surgeons are called “Mister” not “Doctor” because they were originally trained “on the job” as Apprentices, not by Universities. It wasn’t until much later that they had to become doctors before misters. i wasn’t around then, so I can’t say which title indicated the most knowledge.

  4. I was an Adviser for many years and now operate in the RG146 training space. I believe a Degree for new entrants and a ‘Degree equivalent’ pathway for existing Advisers is a great idea. I think the Professional Year concept is long over due and will add real value. I realise this, and other proposed changes, will hurt my business as an RG146 training provider, however it really is for the greater good of the FP industry. It is disappointing when vested interests (ie Mentor and Mark Sinclair) dress up ‘concern’ for limited advice Advisers to feather their own nest and try and keep their courses relevant (so they can continue to sell them). Does he not know only the client can limit the advice being sought? Granted an Adviser Letter of Authority may limit what they can give advice on and that is when we get in to the discussion about ‘limited advice versus product flogger’ – Dr Sinclair should know that from his own course materials – that is, of course, assuming they are up to date?! It’s also interesting that Mr Sinclair is now slating ‘association post-nominal qualifications’ given he was heavily involved in the development of one, however Mentor is no longer associated with it’s delivery.

  5. Unfortunately Mark is demonstrating a very limited understanding of Financial planning and specifically the skills brought to the table by a good risk adviser or the risks of an uniformed accountant providing superannuation advice.

    The reason other professions have a base course such as a Business Degree or a Law Degree is that those students need to have a broad understanding of the whole profession they are entering before they decide on their specialization.

    Once they have that qualification they then start their training in a practice that can provide them with actual experience in their chosen field and with additional study such as CA or CPA, can then provide advice to consumers.

    To assume a risk adviser should have no understanding of SMSFs, Superannuation, Entities and structures and the consequences of ownership, the tax implications of various benefits and especially Estate Planning speaks to the stupidity that is being rolled out by the FSC and ASIC disguised as consumer protections under LIF.

    Equally to assume an accountant with no financial training should be setting up investment strategies for SMSF and superannuation clients without those consumers having the protections of FSR is naive at best. The current drive for leveraging SMSFs to buy investment properties is being driven by this ignorance and it could easily make ‘Storm’ look like a aberration

  6. Mark Sinclair is correct in stating that advisers who only provide Life Insurance Advice should not be required to do extra irrelevant studies.

    There are 2 worlds we live in. The theoretical world and the real world.

    Education lobbyists will always push for higher paper qualifications.

    The real world works around revenue, profit and sustainability.

    If Australians were OVER-INSURED with inferior products that did not provide best interest definitions, then a concerted effort to improve this should be a Government priority, though that should NOT be by forcing advisers to attain higher theoretical knowledge, it should be by forcing Life Companies to work in a level playing field and making the Direct and Retail Life area’s abide by the same plain English regulations.

    HOW-EVER we are a country that has a huge UNDER-INSURANCE problem, so what does the Government propose to do?

    They are looking at making it harder for advisers to advise and sell more Insurance, by reducing the adviser revenues, increasing their expenses with the extra threat of;
    in 2 years unless things improve, the Government will reduce commissions to a flat rate ( this makes recruiting new advisers a tad difficult ) without imposing any conditions on the Life Companies to improve their inefficiencies that drag advisers away from what
    should be their main focus, which is to fix the under-insurance epidemic, by selling more Life Insurance efficiently and quickly, then being able to administer the policies efficiently.

    Australia is becoming a country run by theorists with little practical experience and the consequences are now starting to be felt with massive Government deficits, dropping profits and rising compliance costs in the private sector, with a growing disenchantment amongst Australians.

    The pointy end of the Life Insurance Industry, ie; the advisers who bring in the revenues, are sick of being bludgeoned by self serving lobbyists whose sole aim is to maximise their profits and damn the rest of Australia.

    I have met many educated idiots and many educated unethical people. These higher theoretical education standards will not remove unethical people and will not improve the under-insurance epidemic.

    You cannot under-estimate experience and practical knowledge, though it appears the Government is doing just that.

    • Absolutely agree Jeremy. 35 years of real world experience in all areas of life insurance/ super / investments has given me a much better education than the Bachelors coming out of university. The bottom line is caring about clients, not showing them how smart you are with a piece of paper on the wall.

  7. Being in my early 40’s and having worked through the ranks of a respected advice firm, sitting my CFP 5 subjects including the 100 questions over four hours, which at the time the pass rate was pretty low, so I was pumped I proved my knowledge on that day and every day since for my clients.
    The topic of having an annual exam advisers need to complete is fine by me, shouldn’t this be the determining factor as to whether I’m qualified in the eyes of the powers that be? What if we have the degree qualified individuals coming into the industry and fail that exam, what happens, are they out? But what about the important framed certificates they have, isn’t that their savour?
    I have two young members of our team who are both degree qualified, in fact one of them have two degrees. The young lady with the two degrees expressed to me that the CFP program she is just about to complete has been much more demanding and challenging with regards to knowledge required. I believe the new CFP studiers now only have to complete 70 questions in the four hours. So what do we now think that they are not intelligent enough to do the 100 questions I had to do when I completed mine at the end of 2008?
    My last point to the powers who make these rules up, why is it that the degree qualified individuals I meet and practice with come to me for strategic advice? I am a holistic adviser who is CFP qualified (legitimately no weeties packet CFP), now I have to consider becoming degree qualified to remain in the industry as a holistic adviser just to put the frame on the wall, if I go what will the degree qualified babies do when they need help?
    To be clear, I am very happy for the education standards to improve and have CFP type qualifications the norm.

  8. Just to stir the pot. Doesn’t it say something about a systemic failure in our whole service of personal finances and the complexity of taxation that we now think it needs a degree and so much hand wringing to steer the average Australian through the maze to just save for retirement, insure the risks common to all and get on with their lives? Once upon a time I thought the managed financial products were meant to do that and keep it simple. When you are up to your **** in alligators its hard to remember you just wanted to drain the swamp.

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