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."
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