The global economic turmoil over the past several years has made one thing very clear: the world desperately needs qualified financial planners. Financial planners (aka financial advisors) help people properly manage their personal finance. It includes planning for retirement and for kids’ education, as well as insurance, tax, estate, and investment planning. Financial planners can also help clients manage – and get out of – debt.
Financial planners need to be extremely well qualified if they want people to trust them with their financial security. They need expert knowledge in all fields of finance, including national and international markets. It’s possible to start working in entry level jobs while still studying, but it’s recommended that professionals don’t stop until they’ve obtained a bachelor degree at the very least. And even then, continuing professional development is an industry requirement.
Some financial planning courses include:
Certificate IV Financial Services – Paraplanner & Advice Support
This will get you entry-level jobs, primarily supporting roles, such as assistant to paraplanners or financial planners. It includes modules on financial service operations, ethics, compliance and regulations, preparing basic financial plans, and financial planning research.
Diploma of Financial Planning
This allows you to start working as a financial planner. It includes modules on preparing, implementing and reviewing financial plans, superannuation, insurance, client relationships, complex financial planning research, and managed investments.
Bachelor of Applied Finance (Financial Planning)
This allows you to work as a financial planner, paraplanner, investment advisor, investment analyst, financial analyst, and banking analyst. You’ll gain higher level jobs than if you had just a diploma or advanced diploma in financial planning, but you still have to prove yourself before anyone will let you near their international investment portfolio. The course includes legal and ethical considerations, specialist areas of investment, accounting and economics, tax and tax law, portfolio management, professional communication skills, and corporate finance.
Graduate Certificate in Financial Planning
This allows students to start specialising in particular aspects of financial planning, such as risk management and insurance, estate planning, retirement planning, tax, or property investments.
Master of Financial Planning
This is for people who really want to specialise, or who have their sights set on careers with major corporations. It provides in-depth knowledge of tax, superannuation and retirement, estate planning, risk management, portfolio management, and derivative securities.
Qualified financial planners have several options when it comes to their careers. They can work for large financial corporations, small boutique firms, or they can go into business for themselves.
The Financial Planning Association of Australia breaks it down as follows:
Large corporation: Entry-level jobs in customer service or admin → promotion to financial planning role → promotion to senior paraplanning role → attain Certified Financial Planner status and become a senior financial planner → promotion to upper management (option to stay or to start own business)
Small boutique firm: Entry-level jobs in customer service or admin → promotion to financial planning role → attain Certified Financial Planner status and become a senior financial planner (option to buy into firm or start your own business)
Self-employed: Dogsbody doing all of the work, including marketing, admin, and customer service → success means more employees, which means less drudge work and more focus on financial planning and management → more success, etc. Certified Financial Planner status is highly recommended.
Financial planners need to be licensed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and should belong to at least one financial association, such as the FPA.