Only ‘full’ degrees should be recognised: Mentor Education

Existing advisers transitioning to new education standards should be required to obtain "fully fledged" degrees, and not so-called equivalents from industry associations, argues one financial services training company.

Mentor Education's founder and principal, Dr Mark Sinclair, said that the government's proposal to lift adviser qualification standards is a "long overdue step".

However, in order for the industry to be considered a profession, only advisers with fully fledged, 24-subject financial planning degrees should be considered sufficient, he said.

"While acknowledging there is angst amongst some sections, the reality is the financial advice industry simply cannot progress further, and take its place alongside trusted advisers such as accountants, lawyers, doctors, teachers, without appropriate and benchmarked higher education academic qualifications," Dr Sinclair said.

"Having educated over 15,000 financial advisers since we began operations over 14 years ago, we believe this is a very important and overdue step that will lift the industry's game and benefit consumers."

Dr Sinclair also argues that the new legislation should only recognise a bachelor of financial planning, rather than hybrid degrees. He believes that while industry association post-nominals and advanced diplomas could go toward credits, they should not be considered equivalents.

"It's ludicrous to call them a degree equivalent and will only leave the industry open to further ridicule," he said.

"For established advisers, [the reform] should acknowledge their experience and provide a framework around their hands-on knowledge and depth of expertise – a framework they can leverage to further enhance their business success and client advice endeavours."

Add comment

Security code


+2 #22 Reality 2016-03-29 11:00
@ Paul - Well summarised. Unfortunately we all know that the FPA will fight to maintain the grandfathered CFP's as they are paying them fees each year to retain the title. That's all it comes down to.
0 #21 Barry Richards 2016-03-26 16:02
Schools cannot teach EXPERIENCE and ETHIICS. Big companies and institutions have a history of being driven by profit centres where the dollar comes first. The ORIGINAL concept of the Certified Financial Planner was derailed after Jock Rankin left.
The new laws will not fix ETHICS and EXPERIENCE, or GREED of GULLIBLE clients, unethical Bank lending to people with no income, and ill conceived advice.
+3 #20 Paul 2016-03-26 11:45
Interesting points raised about real CFPs vs grandfathered CFPs. I think everyone in the industry knows there is a massive difference, but there is no way for an outsider to differentiate.

If real CFPs are forced to do extra training because they are assessed at the lowest common denominator level of grandfathered CFPs, then past and present officials of the FPA should prepare themselves for a massive backlash.

They have had ample opportunity to correct the ridiculous mistake of grandfathered CFPs and done absolutely nothing.
+2 #19 Roger Smith 2016-03-26 10:28
Whilst acknowledging that education is important. I think that someone like Dr Sinclair (with a vested interest)is not the one to be espousing the virtues of the need for a full degree. I would be happy to match my 48 years knowledge against any fully degree qualified practitioner in our Industry in the area of being a risk specialist. Perhaps ASIC might like to take me up on this "challenge" before introducing what may be unnecessary additional education standards.
0 #18 Reality 2016-03-24 15:13
@Gav R

Yes fair point about CFP. I should probably expand my comment to include the AFA FchFP course which only requires ADFP and relevant experience.

Having personally done the AFA course it is not remotely comparable to a degree (although it's apparently masters level learning). You could finish a subject well within a week quite comfortably.

I don't mind the exam concept as long as its not online... I can already list off a handful of advisers that would have their paraplanner complete it for them as they would fail miserably.
0 #17 Gav R. 2016-03-24 13:01
@Reality @Dave

The "modern CFP course" requires a degree or masters before you can commence your studies, so by default you will have already achieved level 7.
As the grandfathered CFPs did not have as extensive prerequisite studies, there is much debate as to whether the designation alone is a level 9 (masters), level 8 (post grad), or lesser qualification.

At the end of the day, whether you gained your knowledge through books or experience is irrelevant. We all need to prove that we have the required knowledge to advise clients appropriately. Figuring out how to do this in a fair and consistent manner is quite a challenge.
+2 #16 Don Brown 2016-03-24 11:03
Dr Mark Sinclair hhmm
Yes I am sure your doctorate would suggest we all do this plus it will be very good for your turn over if anything. And no one will be left in or starting in our industry with these requirements.
0 #15 Gav 2016-03-24 10:49
We may find ourselves with the following choice:
1.) a compulsory exam that assesses if we know what we claim we know through our past CPD, studies and experience.
2.) a degree or other suitable qual as determined by the law makers.

Either way - we know that some determinable standard is going to be required to prove our competence.
0 #14 Reality 2016-03-24 09:13
@Dave - I have been lead to believe the modern CFP course (not the cereal box CFP course or grandfathered CFP's) are in fact AQF level 8 - 'Grad Cert/Grad Dip' level. That is what I am told but nobody can actually confirm.

It is however still up for debate as to whether it will be considered a degree equivalent as there are far less subjects than a degree itself.
+3 #13 Steve 2016-03-23 18:00
What a joke, what a circus.
The clowns continue to ruin this industry.
Roll up roll up, watch the fools beat eachother over the head with sticks to show who is the best educated, roll up roll up.
+8 #12 Mark Tyminski 2016-03-23 17:54
Do I smell a conflict of interest? The principal of an financial services training company demanding that financial planners hold fully-fledged financial planning degrees.

Good for business, eh?

Having been in this industry for over 20 years, with suitable qualifications, I believe that it's continuous professional development that overrides the requirement for a degree any day. If a planner can show a long-term history of professional development, then I don't believe the degree is required.
+3 #11 Johno 2016-03-23 15:57
Dave #10 - No CFP isn't level 8. I have CFP only and would need to do a degree or quicker to get exemptions and complete a marsters (around 8 subjects to complete and I'd be done)
But I had a look and couldn't be bothered with the study. I learn more from real life and reading books and thoroughly checked it out and it seems most study is more about playing the academic game as opposed to know what we actually need to know in real life, so I will now put off until is mandated by law.
+3 #10 Dave 2016-03-23 15:29
general question for all to answer please

if you have the CFP or equivalent, is it a level 8 qualification and therefore above the proposed minimum requirement of degree level 7.
if so, a lot of misinformed discussion is obsolete, just like the author - mentor
-1 #9 Macca 2016-03-23 14:33
Boo Hoo, everyone needs to stop complaining and understand that a diploma was never going to cut it in the long run. As to the old timers, me being one of them, standards should not be determined by how long we have got to go until we retire. Take a management role and employ someone who has quals. Either step up or step aside.
+4 #8 James 2016-03-23 13:59
People are starting to question the value of these expensive monolithic degrees, particularly with the level of technological disruption (and continuing industry restructure) that is on the way.

The buzzword at the moment is 'agility'.

Give us a break Dr Sinclair.
+6 #7 Nobby Kleinman 2016-03-23 12:57
I take it that Dr Sinclair is then declaring the Advanced Diploma of Financial Services is substandard to the 15,000 advisers his organisation has trained.
To my knowledge, there aren't 15,000 financial advisers left in Australia, so it's obvious the training or education is not the answer!
His comments are obviously self serving and he lacks the credentials to have actually lived the life of a financial adviser or risk adviser. Those who teach do so because they are generally incapable of actually doing it.
+4 #6 Leo Menkens 2016-03-23 11:18
All the PhDs in the finance industry did not predict the 2008 crash; have not improved clients' investment security since; have not removed the conflicted model of the industry; have not improved openness in invetments of institutions; have convinced the masses to accept the current US$7 trillion government bond investments with NEGATIVE interest rates. And you want more!!!
+14 #5 Reality Check 2016-03-23 11:09
Was there ever a time in the industry when so many people with so many self interests are calling for changes that ultimately only help them and not the end customer. Who would have thought a training business would be calling for advisers to pay for more exams that may not actually be relevant to their businesses?
+2 #4 Rob 2016-03-23 10:33
Dr Sinclair has nothing to gain from a spike in demand for his courses, this is clearly for the best interest of advisers...
+7 #3 Graham H 2016-03-23 10:31
Vested interest? What then the adviser with say 5 years or less to run to retirement? do a degree (3 years full time?) then retire......mor e thought needs to go into this

Feature Video

Latest Blogs


Advisers more relevant than ever, as this budget shows

George Lucas: In that budget, largesse was the name of the game. It preceded the global financial crisis, times were seemingly good, and a government struggling in...More >>

Key budget changes for businesses

Peter Bembrick: Small businesses in particular should benefit from these changes, which include: Company tax rate reduction Over the next decade, the company tax rate will be reduced to...More >>

Robo-advice – it’s not about us

Duncan McPherson: Sadly, it appears that the vast majority of comments are from a developer's or competitor's perspective, with very few focusing on the customer. My concern was...More >>

Latest Comments