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Anthony’s 34 hour diploma

The Australian     |   30 August 2014

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How to become  a ­government-certified, “nationally accredited”, financial adviser with a “diploma of financial planning”.

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Business reporter with The Australian Anthony Klan has apparently argued for some time that the entry barriers to the financial planning industry are lax to the point of barely existing. He says he’s been attacked by sections of the industry — in some cases with legal threats flying — for suggesting the nation’s financial planning education standards were sub-par. So he decided to test the issue: he signed up for a Diploma of ­Financial Planning, ­which is the requirement set by corporate watchdog the Australian Securities and Investments Commission for registration as a financial planner.  This is his account of how he became a rigdy didge certified financial planner in 34 hours, with  no exams, the course completed entirely online and “open-book” — and with no requirement for a high school certificate (or even a passing grade in primary school for that matter).   And he didn’t cheat.  The notional   volume of learning in a diploma level qualification is described by the AQF as being “typically” 1-2 years (that is, 600-1200 hours).  It is expected that completion of a diploma level qualification will provide a graduate with depth of technical and theoretical knowledge and a range of necessary skills. This is reminiscent of   The five minute university – except it’s no joke.

Anthony Klan

Anthony Klan, government-certified, ‘nationally accredited’, financial adviser. Source: TheAustralian

I Google financial planning education. I decide to give Integrity Education Group a miss — its website told me its Diploma of ­Financial planning “provides anyone” seeking to become an adviser with the necessary compliance “to beomce (sic) ASIC registered as an Authoprised (sic) Represetnative (sic)”.

Instead, I approach the Monarch Institute.

I’m told of the price of the ­diploma of financial planning The diploma cost $1425 (more than double, $2950, if you sign up to a handful of face-to-face workshops). The $1425 includes “both personal and general advice”, a distinction that has chewed up its fair share of parliamentary and media time this year.

For an extra $175 — and “an extra 30-40 minutes of reading time”, I am told by the education provider — I could also become a provider of self-managed super­annuation fund advice.

I initially declined the SMSF component thinking I may be overreaching — I’m still not certain as to exactly how much work the planning course will take. Most of the websites I visit avoid the issue of completion time required, but most of those that do say the course should take ­between six and 12 months. One site that does mention time states: “Course Duration: 12 months ­(earlier completion is possible based on individual student capabilities)”.

It’s suggested by a Monarch ­Institute representative, via email, I should take up the SMSF offer.

“I want to let you know that the inclusion of the SMSF to your ­diploma of financial planning will only be an extra 5 units of competency that goes hand in hand with module 3 of superannuation, which is around 30-40 minutes of reading time,” the representative tells me.

The course reading materials come in four modules: foundations of financial planning; investments; superannuation & retire­-ment planning (including SMSF); and insurance. I’m provided with an online assessment portal. My assessment is to comprise four sets of multiple choice questions (one for each module, with the number of questions ranging from 18 to 46) and a series of short-answer questions for each of the four modules.

I’m told all assessment is “open book”, there are no time limits. I can sit the assessment wherever I like. I can have three attempts at each of the multiple choice sets (with a pass mark of 70 per cent). If I require more attempts I can contact the institute.

I cut no corners; I diligently read all the materials, fill out the multiple choice questions and the short answer questions.

During 34 hours of work I complete all the requirements of the course. This did not occur in one sitting, it was several months between signing up for the course and submitting all my assessment materials. As a working journalist I had other duties and the prospect of taking a week’s annual leave to conduct the course was too grim.

But regardless, I keep records of all my time working on the course. A few part days here and there and the odd full day takes me to nine days reading the material and answering questions. In total, and conservatively, 34 hours’ work. Four full days.

(A well known and very well qualified Sydney financier is known for stating he could knock off the course in a “lunch time”. While he’s very much on the right track I challenge him to this, though I am unaware of the length of his lunches.)

I score between 90 per cent and 100 per cent for the four series of multiple choice tests and 100%  (they are either pass or fail) for each of the four sets of short answer questions.

“Sensational! — You have shown an in-depth understanding of this material, and have achieved an excellent result,” I am told. To be fair, I hold a university degree in commerce and have been writing about financial matters for years, so I should score well. But regardless, anyone failing this ­diploma should not receive a ­licence to handle stationery, much less someone’s financial future.

See the complete article:
Need help losing your nest egg? With my four-day $1425 diploma I can help

 

Follow up story

Public cash pays for financial adviser ‘four-day’ diploma

The Australian     |   2 September 2014

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THE NSW, Victorian and federal governments have spent millions of dollars of taxpayer funds training financial advisers to obtain diplomas, which in some cases can be completed with the equivalent of four days’ work.

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