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What should graduates expect as a financial planner?

Toby Van Dyke

Find out what to expect in your financial planning career and how you can best prepare as a university graduate in Australia.

What is financial planning?

Financial planning is about guiding people to achieve their financial goals. Financial planners empower people to grow and protect their wealth, plan for the future and make informed financial decisions for themselves and their families. 

Financial planners support clients from all walks of life. Most individuals need advice to successfully navigate Australia’s complex financial and retirement planning systems. As a financial planner, you’ll spend a large amount of time getting to know your customers, building trust and researching the best strategies for their unique circumstances. 

Financial planners work in organisations of many sizes, from large financial institutions to small boutique firms. Some financial planners prefer to set up their own practice, managing staff and everyday business operations on top of their clients. 

What is the graduate experience in financial planning?

Once you have graduated with an approved financial planning degree or postgraduate qualification (check the FASEA website for the latest approved list), you will most likely begin by working in client services or paraplanning roles. 

In these roles, you will develop an understanding of how financial planning works, the strategies available to clients and the regulations that govern the profession. Your work may involve conducting administrative and research tasks and supporting senior financial planners. These early stages are a time to hone your analytical and communication skills. 

Once you have practical experience you will be ready to complete a professional year, which is a legislated requirement for all new advisers. During this time you may prepare Statements of Advice, research financial products and begin liaising with clients. You will then sit your Financial Adviser Exam. After this, you’ll be able to begin managing your own clients. 

Working with a client’s financial goals is often quite personal – they might be facing redundancy, illness or the loss of a loved one. At each step, you may be asked for advice. You will need to be flexible and learn to work with different personalities.

What are your career prospects in financial planning?

Ultimately, success as a financial planner will be measured by the quality of advice you give to clients and the outcomes they achieve, such as growing their assets. Great advisors will be good at attracting clients and advancing their financial positions.  

Once you have a successful track record of managing your own clients, you may eventually begin overseeing other financial planners within your organisation or move into developing financial products and services.

If you want to branch out beyond financial planning, you may consider working for an asset management firm, financial planning licensee or government regulator.

As a financial planner, you are expected to meet minimum requirements including complying with the profession’s Code of Ethics and undertaking Continuous Professional Development. This may include attending workshops or conferences and completing courses.

Many financial planners choose to continue their education and complete the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER (CFP®) Certification Program. CFP® certification is the highest recognised financial planning designation in the world, opening up further employment opportunities, a higher earning potential and the ability to work overseas. 

Given Australia’s aging population, the transfer of wealth to younger generations and a large number of retiring financial planners, it is likely that the strong demand for financial planners will continue. 

Choose this if you have:

  • A love of helping individuals meet their goals and aspirations.
  • Strong interpersonal and relationship-building skills.
  • Innovative, creative and analytical thinking skills.