The Australian financial advice sector was mature enough to require its own full financial advice degree but a failure to make this mandatory would miss out on a once in a generation opportunity to enact lasting change, according to education provider Mentor Education.
The group has backed its claim regarding the requirement for a full 24 subject degree qualification in advice with research from CoreData which found 80% of advisers believed they should be required to complete a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification.
The survey, of 400 financial advisers, 86 accountants and 54 mortgage brokers, also found that 74.3% of respondents believed a specific 24-subject Bachelor’s degree focused on financial advice and planning would be the most effective at professionalising the financial advice sector.
Nearly 50% of respondents said a bachelor degree level qualification would also improve the confidence of consumers when seeking financial advice while 38.7% said it would overcome negative public perception of financial advice as a profession. Only 1.9% of respondents believed such moves would increase the cost of advice.
Mentor Education, Chief Executive, Dr Mark Sinclair, said the advice profession in Australia had come of age and while many other professions had degree qualifications it was still under debate in the financial advice sector.
“Every other profession in Australia have their own 24 subject bachelor degree and the proposed legislation needs to specify a ‘Bachelor of Financial Planning’ rather than the nebulous reference in the legislation to a ‘degree alternative’ or an unrelated ‘Bachelor’s degree’, such as a Bachelor of Commerce with a small number of financial planning electives,” Sinclair said.
He also stated that while the second draft of the proposed professional standards and education legislation was released prior to the Federal Election it did not contain any reference to a specific Bachelor of Financial Planning nor had there been any debate or discussion around the issue.
“At the moment there are opportunities to be exempt from education or do an alternate degree, but we are of age to have our own bachelor of financial planning qualification.”
“There is a sense of urgency at the moment as the legislation does not mention a bachelor program. The industry has also suffered a death by a thousand cuts and there is a need to improve the image of the industry and professionalise it and improving qualifications is part of that,” Sinclair said.
“At the moment there are opportunities to be exempt from education or do an alternate degree, but we are of age to have our own bachelor of financial planning qualification. This is a once in a generation opportunity to make a difference,” he added.
“The education standard will dictate the requirements for the 2020s and past 2030 and whatever is set now will dictate what that education standard is. Will it be a degree alternative as stipulated in the draft regulations or a bachelor of financial planning – our own qualification for the industry?”
“If we don’t have a loud voice now, then we can continue to have a sub-optimal qualification going forward for another generation.”