Are you looking for a career that provides you with the opportunity to make a significant impact on the lives of others? Financial planning is about helping people achieve their financial and lifestyle goals. If this sounds like the career for you, it’s the perfect time to take a leap: changes to the industry have created a boom in opportunities for qualified financial planners.
Dr Campbell Heggen, lecturer in Financial Planning in Deakin Business School says that while the opportunities in financial planning are diverse and multifaceted, one common thread is that it’s very much a people-oriented career. ‘It's all about helping to educate and inform people about the different options that exist and how they can manage risks,’ he says.
These roles are quite different to the more institutional and corporate-oriented opportunities in some areas of accounting, finance and economics. ‘Financial planning is essentially a people-oriented career, in that you're working with individuals,’ he explains. ‘You're working with families; you're working with people in your community to help them prepare to save for major life events like to purchase a first house, for children’s education, for lifestyle related expenditure and then obviously also to prepare for retirement.’
The time is now
There has recently been significant reforms in the financial planning industry and as of 1 January 2019, all new entrants are required to hold a minimum bachelor degree – specifically, an approved degree in financial planning. ‘All of Deakin's courses are accredited by FASEA, which is the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority,’ Dr Heggen says.
The demand for qualified graduates with an approved degree like Deakin’s Bachelor of Commerce with a major in financial planning is much higher than the number of students available. ‘I think financial planning is a great option for anyone looking for a course with actual employment outcomes,’ Dr Heggen says. ‘Employment opportunities in financial planning right now would be higher than many of the other popular majors that students might consider.’
Existing advisers may be required to complete further studies, and Deakin has a suite of postgraduate courses like the Graduate Diploma or Master of Financial Planning. These courses are specifically designed for experienced advisers coming back to complete further study in order to meet the FASEA requirements.
Options to suit all interests
Dr Heggen says one of the main misconceptions about financial planning is that it’s just about investing. ‘Investing is just a small part of what we do,’ he explains. ‘We are small business consultants, we are insurance experts, we are involved in estate planning.’ Financial planners also have extensive knowledge of taxation law and superannuation. ‘The superannuation system itself is extremely complex and there's not many other courses you can study that give you exposure to superannuation and superannuation law.’
Outside of providing financial advice, there are a number of other directions you can take. ‘There are a number of other employment opportunities in financial services such as banking, insurance, fund management and various roles within the superannuation sector,’ Dr Heggen explains.
In terms of a growing industry, employment opportunities in superannuation are huge. ‘There is currently around $2.9 trillion under management in superannuation in Australia and this is growing every year because of our mandatory deposits,’ Dr Heggen says. ‘There are a lot of employment opportunities within the superannuation sector, in addition to providing financial advice.’
A human side of financial planning
In a time when people are looking for careers that won’t be threatened by artificial intelligence, it’s reassuring to know that much of financial planning can’t be automated. Dr Heggen says that while some technical tasks have been replaced by robo-advisers, the more complex, holistic advice like individual strategic taxation planning, insurance and estate planning are difficult to automate because of the complexity of the advice. ‘A big part of the value we provide for our clients is getting to know them at a much deeper level than a simple computer based questionnaire could possibly do,’ he says. ‘A relationship-oriented financial adviser has a much stronger prospect in terms of their future careers rather than someone who just focuses on being a technical expert.’
Studying financial planning at Deakin allows you to develop a sophisticated understanding of the behavioural aspects of our financial choices. ‘We look at why we struggle with motivation, why we struggle with self-control, why we don't always make decisions that are in our best financial interests and what advisers can do to help people actually make behavioural change for good,’ Dr Heggen says.
Many people are drawn to financial planning because it’s easy to see how it applies in the real world. ‘It’s practically-oriented in terms of money management and financial life skills,’ Dr Heggen says. And it’s a rewarding career if you want to make a difference. ‘You're working with the people in your community to help them achieve their financial goals and dreams.’
To get started on your career in financial planning learn more about the Bachelor of Commerce with a major in financial planning or the Master of Financial Planning.