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

FPA establishes higher education program in financial services

The Financial Planning Association (FPA) in conjunction with the Financial Planning Education Council (FPEC) today announced the launch of a national consultation framework on the curriculum and accreditation requirements for financial planning education in Australia.

The consultation is open to all Higher Education providers and will run until 30 June.

Through the consultation exercise FPEC hopes to learn directly from the University community about their views on a new form of professional/academic relationship with this important financial services community, as well as to get a consensus view on the content and structure for a harmonised national curriculum in financial planning.

In recent years the importance of quality, timely and professional financial advice has been recognised by the Australian community, government and the financial planning profession, as integral to the growth of the superannuation system and to ensure the safe and financially confident position of individual Australians in the future.

The FPA has lead the way in the financial services industry and raised the bar on professionalism that saw it introduce degree requirements for its professional credential program, Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) in 2003 and in the intervening 9 years, 17 of Australia’s Higher Education providers have developed programs that align to professional recognition by the FPA.

In 2011, the FPA established an independent educational council called FPEC, made up equally of the Academic and Professional community, to review the existing programs on offer and research the needs of the University community.

Amongst the most significant concerns identified in that review were:

  • The limited supply of specialist academic (Doctoral level) expertise in Financial Planning (and related Financial Services) presents a problem for the growth of dedicated teaching and research activity in a field that represents the single largest economic contribution to the country.
  • A structural academic problem with professional “multi-disciplinary” fields of research and teaching, leaving fields such as financial planning as academic “itinerants” and creates a lack of ownership in traditional disciplinary structures.
  • Anxiety amongst the Academy that technically dense and highly immediate fields of study, such as financial planning require a higher academic teaching/student ratio and greater academic immediacy than many other single disciplinary subjects.
  • The multiple accreditation requirements of professional bodies and the increasing standards requirements of Australian education regulators lead to duplication of activity and ultimately drain academic support resources. Universities are calling for alignment in professional accreditation frameworks.
  • A disconnect between the research activity central to University strategy and the research needs of the financial planning profession and related stakeholders (such as policy issues for government, structural and regulatory issues etc…)
  • The increasing regulatory oversight and establishment of mandatory education requirements for professions such as financial planning has a narrowing and levelling effect on the educational content available and has eroded the traditional differences between VET sector and Higher Education. This has also led to difficulty in distinguishing between postgraduate and undergraduate program content and outcomes that seek to deliver the same regulatory outcomes, at the expense of differentiated professional and career needs.
  • The Financial Services Industry has not provided a unified professional clarity around curriculum and professional needs across the varied sectors and has failed to support Universities with structured professional networks, leadership and funding.

In responding to these concerns of the University community and the need to ensure long term content and program integrity, FPEC has today launched a national consultation on the introduction of a new Australian Curriculum for Financial Planning and also a new Accreditation Framework for providers and programs.

Dr Deen Sanders, Chief Professional Officer of the FPA said:
“We know that Universities are working through enormous change right now, wrestling with changes to purpose, funding, standards and program validity. Our research showed us that the business world is wrestling with the same challenges, as the career model for professions changes in response to community demand, as individual professionals work through a different sense of community and obligation and as governments and regulatory scrutiny increases across the board.”

“In such an environment it is incumbent that professional communities reach out in a collaborative way to Universities to encourage and assist them to navigate the increasingly volatile aspects of modern business needs”.

In light of the 2011 review, the FPEC has expanded its work program for University engagement and will now also work on building a research channel and programs that support direct academic engagement with the professional community.

Prof. David Lamond, FPEC Chairman said:
“Until now there has been no consistent model of a financial planning curriculum and no consistent approach to accreditation. The Financial Planning Education Council‟s proposal is for a consultation on the introduction of a new Australian Curriculum for Financial Planning that aims to support positive general outcomes for all graduates in this field, whilst allowing Universities to specialise in their area of research or teaching expertise.

Similarly, the competing variations in professional body accreditation presents complexity and unnecessary duplication for Universities so the proposal to adopt an Accreditation model that follows the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) approach that many business schools are already following, is one that we hope the University community will support.”