We have a long and proud history of providing extensive training for our team. It has always been part of our business operations to help our people meet their career goals and support them with appropriate learning opportunities.
The FASEA (Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority) Professional Year standard commenced on 1 January 2019, and to ensure that we meet the new industry standards, we incorporated the Professional Year program into our Financial Adviser Training.
Christine Bau, People and Development Manager, and Sean Curran, Operations and Compliance Manager, developed the internal program and we have two Adviser Assistants currently undertaking their Professional Year – James Grixti and Matt Benic. Sean, James and Matt give us some insight into the program.
Incorporating new standards
Training and development are central to our business and our new Professional Year program isn’t necessarily implementing anything new – it is more about formalising our process and making sure we meet all the regulatory requirements as set out by FASEA. Sean explains,
“The program we’ve developed is in relation to the new legislation introduced under the FASEA reforms. FASEA was established in 2017 to set the education, training and ethical standards of licensed financial advisers in Australia.
We were already well ahead of the industry, as we have been running our own Financial Adviser Training program for years and have been able to incorporate the new standards into our existing program.
What we’ve always done and what FASEA requires now are pretty similar – we’ve just adapted our program to match exactly what FASEA has outlined. The program covers specific areas including technical competence, client care and practice, regulatory compliance, consumer protection, professionalism and ethics.
We now separate the program into four different quarters, whereas our training originally covered all the different content but it wasn’t necessarily designated within specific quarters. Our training was probably a longer pathway where you would gain all the experience but not as defined and ticked off during separate components of learning.”
This type of training is very different from tertiary education. The program is more about soft skills. Its focus is on-the-job training and developing the interpersonal skills that you need to have in order to be able to provide advice to clients.
First Financial leading the industry
There’s no doubt that we are leading the industry in the Professional Year standard. Sean continues,
“For other firms or financial organisations, the Professional Year would need to be rolled out if they wanted to invest in training a financial adviser… but for many others in the industry, they might not have the internal structure, or it could be difficult to develop their own program. So instead, it might be easier to just hire someone who already has the qualifications.
Because we’ve always invested in our team and supported them in developing career pathways, it was much easier for us… essentially, we were already doing it. When looking at the statistics, only around 200 new applicants had registered toward the end of 2020, so we know we are one of the first movers on developing and offering the program.”
On the Financial Adviser path
At the beginning of 2021, two of our Adviser Assistants commenced their Professional Year program and we are pleased to be supporting their career development. James and Matt are both three months in and are already enjoying the next step in their roles.
James works alongside Principal Brad Jackson and is enjoying the connection he is building with clients.
“I’ve started attending some client meetings and being involved with new potential clients. Brad has given me the opportunity to be part of the conversation with them, which has been great. I still do a lot of the administrative work behind the scenes, but the face to face has been a great learning experience.
It’s great to have a more active role and be involved with Brad while we do the strategy work relating to investments. He’s given me the chance to come up with some investment recommendations, and he gives me feedback which really helps move me forward.”
Matt is Chris Crough’s Adviser Assistant and he is excited to be taking the official steps towards becoming an adviser.
“It’s good to put in the time for official training and getting down to the nitty-gritty of what it is to be a financial adviser. I have been working through real-life scenarios with Chris and I enjoy recognising that that’s what we are here for… that’s the exciting part of the job, so I’m really happy to be working on the official process.
It’s awesome working with Chris! We’ll have a fact find session where we will map out options… we look at everything to work out what the best outcome will be, finding the best strategy for that client. Chris has fantastic technical knowledge; I’ll make a suggestion and he helps me develop on from that… highlighting all the elements that I should consider. I find it extremely helpful to be able to expand my knowledge when he indicates the additional factors I need to look at. It’s great to learn from someone so experienced.”
While the Professional Year suggests a 12-month program, realistically, James and Matt can take as long as they need to complete all the learning areas. Sean says,
“The program doesn’t have to be finished 12 months from the start; it is when you are ready to take the next step. It could take longer… it is all dependent on the individual’s progress.
Halfway through their professional year, they will complete a FASEA exam and after that they are called a provisional adviser. Once they finish the program, they move to either Associate Adviser, depending on their original title or into a Junior Adviser role.”
We are excited to support James and Matt as they work towards becoming Financial Advisers.