Friday, 2 September 2022

Applied to do PhD at ACU, and enrol in courses for CFP (via FPA) and FChFP (via AFA/Kaplan) certifications

I may be crap at marketing and have no clients for my financial planning business, but I'll be damned if I don't end up as the most overqualified financial advisor in Australia! ;)

Having complete my MFinPlan coursework last year, I did a couple of 'specialist' courses via Kaplan Professional (one in Margin Lending and the other in SMSF Taxation and Regulation).

Since WSU declined my application to enrol as a PhD candidate (they wanted me to first complete a MRes degree which would take four years part-time and cost around $30K), I decided to apply to enrol as a PhD candidate at some other Australian universities. First cab off the rank was ACU (Australian Catholic University). I'm not religious and ACU isn't a "top tier" university, but ACU does have a suitable school of Business and one of their campuses is conveniently located only ten minute bus ride from the Sydney office of my full-time employer (although I've been 'working from home' for the past couple of years, and probably won't have to go into the office more than one day a month in the immediate future). The application will apparently take around 8 weeks to be assessed, so I'll find out if I get accepted towards the end of this year. If I'm not accepted I'll apply to some other Australian universities (an advantage of doing a PhD in Australia is that the university fees would be covered by a fee offset scholarship under the Australian Government's Research Training Program).

I'm not sure if/when I'll commence a part-time PhD, so in the meantime I decided to enrol in the CFP (Certified Financial Planner) program available from FPA (Financial Planning Association of Australia). Completing the MFinPlan degree means that I was given exemption/advanced standing for the CFP1-4 courses, and will only have to complete one course (CFP C) - the 'capstone project', which is basically preparing a Statement of Advice for a complex 'case study'. And then pass the four hour multiple choice certification exam (the 'pass mark' is 80% I think, and in July the overall pass rate for the CFP exam was 66% - so it is probably about as easy/difficult as the FASEA exam was). I'll probably enrol in CFP-C at the end of this year, depending on what else I am doing at the time. There is also a relevant experience requirement (2 years full-time or 4 years part-time), so I probably won't be able to get the CFP designation until after I have built up a bit of a 'client book'.

I also put in an application with Kaplan Professional to enrol in the AFA's FChFP (Fellow Chartered Financial Practitioner) certification program. Apparently there is automatic exemption/advanced standing granted for two of the four required courses if you have completed CFP1-4 already, so I'm hoping that having completed the MFinPlan degree (which gave me advanced standing for CFP1-4) I'll also get exemption from the courses AFA3 and AFA4, and only have to complete courses AFA1 (Business Strategy for Financial Advisers) and AFA2 (Client Experience Strategy). That would save me both time and money, and avoid rehashing coursework that was already covered in my MFinPlan coursework.

I was prompted to apply to enrol in the FChFP courses now, as the AFA and FPA just announced that they intend to 'merge' into a single new professional association covering financial planners in Australia (I'm currently a member of both associations). The merger seems like a good idea, as there was quite a bit of overlap in the services/goals of the two associations, and because the 'pool' of registered financial advisers in Australia has shrunk considerably over the past few years due to increased regulation and the requirements to pass the FASEA exam and meet the new educational requirements. The new association (which will be dominated by the FPA) plans to maintain the CFP certification, but will phase out the FChFP certification program (while continuing to 'recognise' the certification). So if I want to get the FChFP designation I had to start soon!

The FChFP courses aren't too expensive ($1,200 each) and the two courses I will need to do cover more practical/applied material relating to running a financial planning practice than what the CFP courses or my MFinPlan degree covered. Not sure how worthwhile the FChFP designation will be (I'm sure my clients won't know or care), but as I'm already a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a Chartered Chemist, being a Fellow Chartered Financial Practitioner seemed like cool post-nominal to add to my current list ;)

DFP BAppSc GDipAppChem GDipAppSc MAstron MFinPlan FRAS CChem JP(NSW)

That bloody PhD is proving to be elusive though !

***** update *****

Turns out that Kaplan is no longer accepting new enrolments for the FChFP courses, so I won't be doing that certification. Coincidentally I received a reminder email to renew my AFA subscription the same day I found out that the FChFP certification was no longer available - so there really isn't much point spending $500 or so to renew my AFA membership, especially as the AFA is likely to be absorbed by the FPA by the end of this year.

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