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CBA lifts planners’ education standards

Jul 19, 2014

THE Commonwealth Bank has moved to tighten up the education standards of its financial planners, in a pre-emptive move to get changes in place ahead of likely formal obligations down the track.

In a clear swipe at the low level of the current RG146 qualification that all advisers must have, CBA effectively doubled the height of the hurdle by insisting that advisers without relevant university degrees must complete by June 30, 2017 the Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning, which has eight obligatory units to RG146’s four.

As one planner wrote recently of RG146 in this newspaper, “it’s easier to become a financial planner than a hairdresser’’.

Marianne Perkovic, executive general manager of advice at CBA, agreed “most of the industry say (RG146) isn’t good enough’’. She said the Financial Systems Inquiry’s final report and the Senate Committee’s final report into ASIC’s handling of the CBA planning scandal, neither of which has yet emerged, would probably make recommen-dations to revise the education standard of financial planners. She said existing senior financial planners, who represent about one in five planners, would be required to obtain the “Certified Financial Planner” qualification by that date.

The CBA announcement came as a joint announcement with the Financial Planning Association, which effectively owns the CFP designation.

Daniel Brammall, president of the Independent Financial Advisers Association, said such a move was “useful, but it’s not evidence of sunlit uplands ahead, because the CFP qualification’s been around for 20 years’’. He said: “A genuine change to the CBA culture would occur if they abandoned charging commissions and asset fees on their products.’’

The CBA move was widely supported, however, with superannuation academic Adrian Raftery saying other financial institutions would come under pressure to go the same way as CBA. Dr Raftery, a senior lecturer at Deakin University, said the CBA plan was better than any plan for a national examination, which had been put up elsewhere.

Brad Cooper, chief executive of BT Financial Group, praised the move to lift education but tied it to the new proposal to establish a complete register of financial planners in Australia, as announced this week by Superannuation Minister Mathias Cormann. “We have long supported the creation of a public register that would encompass the education, years of experience, employment history and areas of expertise and annual certification results for every financial planner in Australia,’’ he said.

The original article was first published here in The Australian on 19 July 2014.

Tags: Financial PlanningSMSFSuper

Author: Andrew Main

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