Thursday, 28 June 2007

Diploma of Financial Service (Financial Planning)

I saw an ad for a financial planning course and decided to visit to see what was available. The Diploma course takes 8 days to complete (not quite the years of study I had to do for my Graduate Diplomas in IT and chemistry, but hey, it's probably a stretch for most insurance and investment salespeople to stay awake for 8 days of coursework!) and costs $4,360, or can be done by distance education over 4 months, for a reduced fee of $2,360.

Under the Australian Financial Services Reform Act 2001, all individuals who provide incidental personal or general financial product advice to retail customers must meet the minimum training standards as outlined in ASIC Policy Statement 146. (Hence the catchy website domain name ps146). I'm not planning on becoming a professional financial planner or investment advisor (I'm already doing a Graduate Diploma of Education in case I want to become a high school science teacher as a form of early retirement), but the subject matter looks quite interesting, and I like collecting bits of "continuing education" paper to stick on my home office wall ;) So I decided to enrol in the course by distance education. I'll let you know if I learn anything interesting in the next four months. The subjects in the course are:

Subject Topics

Financial Planning (DFS 1) Generic Knowledge (GK)
Financial Planning Skills (FPS)

Insurance (DFS 2) Insurance (term, TPD, trauma & income protection insurance)
General insurance
Business overheads insurance
Consumer credit insurance
Travel insurance
Health Insurance

Superannuation (DFS 3) Personal superannuation
Retirement income stream products, pensions, roll-overs and annuities
Property ownership structures
Business superannuation

Investment (DFS 4) Managed investments (listed property trusts, primary production)
Securities (shares)
Foreign exchange
Fixed-interest products

Enough Wealth


bigbuddha said...

an 8 day course to complete your Dip FP sounds like crazy talk.

I would seriously question the quality of the training provided at this particular provider.

I've been an FP for more than 8 years and haven't come across anyone who has used this service, let alone used it to "qualify" themselves as a FP.

DFP8 the last course you take should at least take you a copule months to complete as you have to build a FULL financial plan from scratch, without the aid of planning software. I'm not sure many people could right up a 60 to 80 page document in 1 day with all strategies contemplated and financial modelling calculated,do you?.

bigbuddha said...

when i said "right" i meant "write" hehe fairly tired when i wrote this heheheh.. said...

BB - I also thought the amount of time required was way too brief to learn very much, but apparently that is all that is required. I suppose this comes from the fact that until relatively recently a lot of financial planners had little or no qualifications at all - I believe that much tighter regulation and educational requirements only came into effect this century. Then again, from the "testimonial" comments about the course on the website, many of the students doing the course found it tough to get through the subject matter in just 8 days of face-to-face intensive training. At least by doing it as a distance ed student I can take up to 4 months to complete the course.

As far as I can tell this DFS(FP) course from is perfectly legit and is considered to be adequate training to become a financial planner - ps146 is a registered training organisation (RTO) listed with the National Training Information Service (NTIS) - see here. And they are registered with the licencing body for financial planners, ASIC - see the ASIC listing for them here.

Obviously just getting the piece of paper for a Diploma in Financial Services (Financial Planning) doesn't make one a professional financial planner overnight (or over a week).

As far as I can tell you can even use this qualification to get a financial services license (FSL) from ASIC, you'd just have to meet some other legal requirements, such as passing the criminal record check and obtaining professional indemnity insurance. There are probably also some requirements to have relevant supervised planning experience - I certainly hope so!

Anyhow, I'll post on how the course turns out and specifically on how much effort was involved in meeting the 80 assessment items required for the coursework. If (when?) I obtain the qualification I may even look into what is required to get a FSL from ASIC - the application process for licencing is online and tells you exactly what you need based on the type of business you will be running (ie. independent financial planner, insurance sales, whatever).

Evets said...

Mate, dont expect to learn too much from the old DFP. It is just a compliance course to make people think ASIC is doing the right thing.

I hold a uni degree (B Com), DFP 1-8 and have almost completed Grad Dip Applied Finance. I can tell you, DFP may as well come from cornflakes packet. The course i did was a simple assignment and an open book multiple choice exam.

Thats still half the problem with the industry. The fact that it takes so little to be an adviser. IMO before you can sit in front of clients, you should have a couple of years industry experience and a uni degree behind you

However, I have colleagues who have done the course and it definitely is legit. I have helped them with some of their assignments, and the content looks ok.

As for getting a FSL. Dont go there. Thats why most practices (even the ones that call themselves independent) are tied to a large dealer group who holds the license. The rules and regs are just too much.

And Bigbudda, dont know who you did your DFP 8 assignment through but i used my company's software to create it and it took no more than a day's work!

bigbuddha said...

Evets, I completed it some time ago back in 2000-2001. One of the rules when I was completing DFP8 was that you couldn't use obviously templated financial planning text ie planning software.

The rules may have changed somewhat in recent years, I'm not sure.

But yes, I do agree with you that the DFP courses are nothing, especially if you've done a uni degree like I had.

Just a side note my uni degrees was also a B.Com (corporate finance and corporate law majors).

Another quick sidenote, during my completion of the DFP courses, many many of my colleagues actually failed some of the courses multiple times, AND they had been "PLANNERS" for many many years. I worked for one of the BIG FOUR at the time, aussie's should know what i mean.

This lead to my distaste at being associated with a BIG FOUR, so I've been in independent dealers ever since.

Evets said...

BigBudda, in my experience Big Fours and Independants both have their good and bad. Big Four tend to have less experience, but strong compliance departments, and those that dont follow the letter of the law dont last long. the bank adviser dont rely so much on commission and the dealergroups do not have to run at a profit, therefore they can provide a lower cost service

Independants are often filled with ex insurance salesmen who chase commissions at the client's expense.

There's dodgy advisers everywhere you go. Unfortunately the limited education requirements have probably contributed to this. said...

As I understand it, an "independent" can't receive commissions. According to ASIC the term "Independnt" (along with "unbiased") are RESERVED words and can't be used to describe a financial planner that gets paid via commisions - even trailing commisions. See

I know that in the context of this post the use of the expression "independent" is probably just a shorthand reference to planners working for themselves, but it's still important to use correct nomenclature.

A recent enforceable undertaking about the use of the term "independent advice" was issued against Mortgage Point Pty Limited for advertising themselves as giving independent advice when they didn't meet the requirements for using that terminology.

bigbuddha said...

That's true enough wealth, but fortunately I only charge an Adviser Service Fee, and I rebate all commissions back to the client or just dial it down to 0 from the outset.

And I think alot of planner's these days are going down the ASF track as opposed to receiving commissions.

JW said...

I would be interested to see what you think of the courses once you've enrolled.

As you mentioned 8 days doesn't seem long enough to obtain any sufficient or substantial level of knowledge in the area mentioned.