The Financial Planning Association of Australia The Financial Planning Association of Australia

A letter from FPA Chairman, Matthew Rowe


FPA Chair Matthew Rowe talks about the changes within the profession, and what lies ahead for the coming year.

Dear Professional Colleague,

I write to you in a year which will be the most significant of the 20 year history of our professional association. We each understand the enormity of change occurring on many fronts – legislative, economic, political, technological and structural – and the various impacts these changes will have.

But 2013 will not be remembered for these many changes. Nor will it be remembered for the many responses, reactions and points of view. It will be remembered for just one change.

And that change is your conviction and support to transition the FPA from an industry association into a professional association for individual financial planning practitioners.

Independent research demonstrates that almost 9 out of 10 FPA members are aware of and support our vision to transform the financial planning industry into a universally respected profession.

With this support we will build a sustainable and viable financial planning profession. This movement is driven by a common belief that the profession of financial planning plays a significant role in the welfare of Australians and is a matter of public interest. Best interest.

As professionals our responsibility also extends to the next generation. One day our children will have the choice to enter a respected professional endeavour known as financial planning. Their family and friends will celebrate a great chosen vocation that is a multiplier, not detractor, of wealth.

The FPA seeks to ensure that the next generation can build a professional future on the bedrock of taking care of others, backed by world-class educational standards and a professional framework that supports those who choose to do the right thing.

The year 2013 will be a year in which outcomes need to be driven from a well-resourced and purpose-driven professional association that we now know is the FPA.

Yes, it will be a year of great change, but also great opportunity.

I would like to take the opportunity to announce some key developments already shaping 2013.

Leadership

On behalf of the FPA Board I am delighted to announce that Mark Rantall has accepted an extension to his term as CEO of the Financial Planning Association and Mark will lead us on the next stage of our journey beyond 2013.

Mark has built a team and culture within the FPA that has produced significant outcomes for our professional association and our members. Through his passionate and committed leadership the FPA has successfully implemented a transformational strategy to move from an industry body with a broad church of members to become the first professional association for individual financial planning practitioners in Australia.

Mark Rantall’s leadership and the successful implementation of our three year strategy have many “proof points” of our journey toward becoming a universally respected profession, for example:

  • Our financial position is strong, meaning we have the resources to build and maintain a robust professional framework and ensure we have a sustainable professional association. Sustainability in the FPA now comes from a strong and growing membership without being reliant on events or sponsorship.
  • At the time of writing, over 1,000 new members have joined our professional association so far this financial year.
  • We currently have over 460 members studying toward CFP® certification.
  • Our enrolments in CFP1, the starting point for CFP certification, are the highest since 2007 pre-GFC levels and are 44% higher than last year.
  • Independent research shows that for consumers the CFP designation is now the most commonly cited credential when looking for a financial planner.
  • This same research shows 85% of our audience recalled that FPA members work to higher standards and 78% of licensees state that corporate risk and complaints are reduced by having a greater number of CFP practitioners.
  • We have statistics that show more consumers use the FPA website to find a financial planner than any other source, including Google or the ASIC website.
  • The FPA has been recognised as a professional association by the Tax Agent Practitioner Board – the first financial planning professional association to gain such recognition.
  • “Financial Planner” recognised as a protected term in law

We have seen the damage done by unqualified individuals holding themselves out as financial planners. It is frustrating that FPA members suffer reputational damage as a result of the misdeeds of such individuals.

The FPA has strongly argued that the term financial planner must be protected or “enshrined” in the corporations law as a consumer protection measure. Australians deserve “truth in labelling” when it comes to the provision of financial planning advice as it has a profound impact on the communities financial well-being. The term financial planner is either restricted or is in the process of being restricted by the respective laws governing Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

You will know that the FPA has been a lone voice in this argument and only as a result of our efforts has the Government been willing to table proposed legislation restricting the term financial planner.

We understand that the proposed legislation to enshrine the term financial planner may be tabled in Parliament in March 2013.

It is a serious matter and consumers deserve the protection afforded by the proposed legislation.

The FPA has the resolve and resources to see this through – your support in this endeavour is critical for our fledgling profession and more importantly for future generations of consumers and financial planners.

Future Professional Framework

On the 1st March 2013 ASIC released Regulatory Guide 183: Approval of financial services codes of conduct.

Since this release there has been a growing noise in the industry media clouding the meaning of a code of professional conduct, the need for a code or the linking of a code of professional practice only with the “opt-in” provisions of FoFA.

If we look beyond the noise, there is an increasingly clear differentiation between membership of an industry association and membership of the FPA as a professional association.

To elevate financial planning from an industry to a universally respected profession requires many things – high on that list is an integrated and resourced professional framework.

It takes significant time, people, conviction, integrity, governance, transparency and most importantly resources to build a professional framework. It is not an easy task, it is not something that can be built quickly and it requires significant ongoing investment.

A fully integrated professional code of professional practice offers a better approach to consumer protection and provides greater certainty for financial planners.

A code which forms part of an integrated professional framework – including a professional accountability system to hear professional disciplinary complaints, professional membership requirements with higher educational standards for entry – integrated with the higher education sector, and integrated arrangements between the professional body, the industry, and the regulator for monitoring and supervision of individual conduct – this is a model that builds trust and confidence in the emerging profession of financial planning.

RG 183.3 states “…where approval by ASIC is sought and obtained, it is a signal to consumers that this is a code they can have confidence in. An approved code responds to identified and emerging consumer issues and delivers substantial benefits to consumers.”

The FPA has a professional framework which is leading the world and upon which future consumers will build trust and future financial planners will earn respect.

Future Standards

It is widely acknowledged by financial planners, consumers, media, regulators and policy makers that the minimum entry level to financial planning, as required by RG146, is too low.

In our view, minimum entry standards clearly show the difference between “industry” and “profession”.

Consider the following proof points:

  • Over 80% of our CFP® professional members are now degree qualified as a minimum starting point
  • Almost 70% of our Financial Planner AFPmembers are studying toward CFP certification or intend to start studying toward CFP certification – there are currently 460 members studying toward CFP certification.
  • CFP® certification is the pre-eminent designation in financial planning with nearly 150,000 CFP practitioners globally. The FPA is a leading member of the global Financial Planning Standards Board.
  • 75% of licensees would pay up to $40,000 per annum more for planners holding the CFPdesignation
  • The FPA formed and funded the Financial Planning Education Council, designed to build degree pathways and curriculum in Financial Planning with 17 Australian Universities.
  • In the eyes of the community a profession is respected by the quality of its certification and “professional brand”. Certification is built upon education, ethics, examination and experience. Professional brand is built upon the ethical principles, integrity, resources and quality of our professional association and upon the behaviour of our members – both individually and collectively.

The time to maintain the benchmark for financial planners at RG146 has passed. The time to elevate from an industry to a universally respected profession is now.

The FPA announced over two years ago that membership would be restricted in future to those that hold, as a minimum, an approved University degree. It is widely acknowledged that the community now expects those responsible for their financial well being to hold, as a minimum, degree qualifications and in addition professional certification from a professional association.

From the 1st July 2013 financial planners will not be able to join the FPA without an approved degree qualification. To ensure this message gets to as wide an audience amongst financial planners as possible we will be embarking on an intensive advertising campaign.

We acknowledge there are many quality financial planning practitioners with years of experience that do not hold a degree qualification. These practitioners joined an industry under the historical standards of their day – this is entirely appropriate and should be viewed through this historical lens.

We welcome these experienced financial planners as part of our professional association and recognise the important role they play in our professional community.

I would ask that you ensure every opportunity is afforded to the colleagues in your professional network to join our professional community before this change takes place. It is an important consideration when speaking with your colleagues to note that the FPA is licensee and employer agnostic.

2013 FPA Professionals Congress

On October 17 and 18 this year you have a chance to join your professional colleagues in the ‘must attend’ event for 2013.

Our new and revamped 2013 FPA Professionals Congress will bring together our professional community to enjoy the highest quality educational content, share professional best practice and first class networking events. It is my belief that our 2013 Congress will serve to bring our professional community together as ONE, ensuring the 2013 FPA Professional Congress is the best event on the conference calendar.

In 2013 please pause and think of the transformation that the FPA has undergone in the past few years. I would ask that you think of the discretionary effort that many have made through their involvement in our Chapters and Committees, our advocacy through FoFA and other changes, think of our work together in lifting standards, building a respected professional framework and building a curriculum in financial planning with Australian Universities.

Thank you for your continued support, the FPA team look forward to serving you in the coming year.


Matthew Rowe CFP
Chairman