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Financial Advisers and meeting FASEA’s education standard – debunking the myths

Often some of this commentary is simply incorrect and requires clarification. I wanted to use this opportunity to debunk some of these myths.

As the industry’s largest and leading education provider, Kaplan Professional hears a diverse range of thoughts and theories about education. Often some of this commentary is simply incorrect and requires clarification. I wanted to use this opportunity to debunk some of these myths.

These answers are based on our experience of supporting our corporate clients and thousands of financial advisers around the country with the FASEA education requirements. This has helped Kaplan Professional to develop a thorough understanding of what it takes to help advisers manage and succeed with their studies. I hope this can provide advisers who are apprehensive or anxious with the confidence they need to make the decisions right for them.

Myth one: I haven’t started studying because the extensions mean I have plenty of time.

What must be remembered is many advisers have to complete a Graduate Diploma, which encompasses eight subjects at the postgraduate level. Many others have five or six subjects to do.

This is a significant commitment that requires dedication, time and effort to succeed. On average, it takes working advisers undertaking a Graduate Diploma with Kaplan Professional approximately three years to complete with a moderate study workload.

It’s in your best interests to make this workload as manageable as you can. The earlier you get started, the more flexibility you have to balance your study with your other commitments. It also provides you more control over your pathway – you can adapt your study to suit your schedule and spread it out over a longer period. Work and family pressures are factors that will always need to be considered. What happens if something arises and you don’t have the capacity to study for a significant amount of time? You don’t want the weight of the requirements hanging over you for another four years or so.

This is well summed up by one adviser, Ben Travers, who expressed, “there’s always a reason to delay until the next study period. Unfortunately, this can lead to further stress down the track or even a reason to give up. Being proactive and starting early means you can spread the time, commitment and energy over years, rather than months.”

Myth two: I’ve seen reports about it costing over $3,000 for a subject and that these costs will only increase as a result of government policy.

From the time the FASEA requirements were announced, we were extremely concerned with the financial burden it placed on advisers. So, we made the made a conscious decision to hold our subject fees to a retail rate of $2,500 for new students and significantly reduce the subject fees for the majority of advisers who had previously studied their Diploma or Advanced Diploma with Kaplan Professional. We then negotiated further significant reductions with hundreds of licensees.

In addition, advisers’ subject fees are ‘locked in’ for the duration of their qualification, which gives them certainty and protects them against any future price increases. We also recently announced our prices won’t increase until 2022 at the earliest; hopefully this provides assurances to advisers that education costs can be manageable.

Advisers and education – debunking the myths

I’d also point out advisers are only required to pay for the subjects they’ve enrolled into each study period. As you can pay on a subject-to-subject basis, you don’t have to worry about committing to the cost of a whole qualification in one go.
Many eligible advisers choose to use FEE-HELP, which is a Commonwealth Government loan to help pay for part or all of tuition fees. This means you don’t have to pay upfront to study. Kaplan Professional is also flexible with those who aren’t eligible for FEE-HELP and will always look at ways to support individuals on a case-by-case basis.

Myth three: I’d never be able to go back and study now. It’s been too long, or I haven’t been to university before.

There’s no avoiding the fact that, yes, it will be a challenge. But it’s one we’ve always believed advisers could meet if we really worked hard to support them. Having now had thousands of advisers who hadn’t studied at this level or for a long time, this is being proved correct. Advisers generally have an inherently strong understanding of the subject content. If we can work with them on the requirements needed to effectively study at this level, they succeed.

To do this, we’ve improved our online learning experience to make it more accommodating, engaging and supportive than ever before. This is focused on three elements: proactive planning, personalised support and flexible learning.

If you haven’t studied online or at this level before, you can complete dedicated modules designed to you teach strategies to build your confidence with assessment preparation, motivation, time management and technology. You’re also never alone; you can always rely on a knowledgeable Student Adviser who’s just a phone call or email away to help you navigate any challenges you encounter.

We’ll also work with you to you build a study plan, much like you would with your own clients. This is tailored to your own individual circumstances and assisted Dylon Mackriel, who said a week-by-week plan enabled him to feel confident with his study and remain motivated at all times. There are also six study periods each year with full subject availability. This means you can choose the intakes that suit your schedule, providing you the freedom to study at all times of the year.

To further help you plan your workload and get your studies off to the best possible start, you can access your subject materials, support resources and assessments long before a study period officially commences.

If you need help or guidance with subject content or assessments, you can book a one-on-one consultation with a tutor on Zoom whenever you need. Tutor-facilitated group study sessions are available on Zoom if you’re seeking mutual support and collaboration with your peers of all ages and experience. Tutors also post frequently in the discussion forums with focus points from weekly topics, as well as tips on study scheduling and how to approach assessment tasks.

Myth four: I’m worried about online study but don’t have the time to go to lectures.

Online education is new for many and it takes some getting used to. Once you get into your groove, you’ll realise how convenient and flexible it is. You don’t have to worry about travel or scheduling your day around attending lectures and classes at a campus. You study how and when you want. You have access to recorded lectures, course materials and support resources at your fingertips. The perfect example is Kayleigh Patmore, who lives in regional NSW. She’s a single mother of two teenage daughters and works full-time as a director. Kayleigh studied during the evening, lunch breaks or on the weekend while her kids were at sport. She took her iPad everywhere and took any opportunity to study whenever she could. She couldn’t have completed her Master of Financial Planning without online study.

Some think online learning lacks interaction because there’s no face-to-face component. Enhancements in technology have now enabled us to hold online classes in real time, which has significantly increased a sense of belonging, connection and engagement among advisers. A popular example is our weekly ‘live online’ sessions hosted by an industry expert, with an average of 120 advisers attending each session. One of these is Sebastian Mazza, who described the experience as “insightful and engaging, with quality presenters who provided lots of practical examples relevant to my professional practice.”

You can even sit your exams from home. There’s a lot of debate about online proctored exams, but the reality is they provide you with a familiar and comfortable environment to perform at your best, while eliminating factors that heighten anxiety and nervousness such as travel and crowded exam centres. Natalee Cacozza is one adviser to benefit, stating, “being at home, comfortable and in a relaxed environment was beneficial. I’ve sat the FASEA exam and other exams with Kaplan Professional at public venues and I much preferred doing it remotely. Once you’re finished, you’re at home and you can move on. I wasn’t disturbed at all by the process.”

Myth five: I’ve heard there are shortcuts or easier ways to do this.

We always advise caution with offerings such as challenge tests or intensives. While these might appear to be an ideal option for a time-poor adviser who wants to complete a subject quickly, there’s a lot more to these once you begin to scratch below the surface. You really need to investigate what you’re getting out of it and how much it costs – both timewise and financially. The amount of days advertised is just the length of the in-class activities. You’re expected to complete significant readings and multiple assessments. This is a heavy workload for an incredibly short period of time.

With a robust plan, dedicated support, complete flexibility and comprehensive content, you’ll realise there’s no real need for these gimmicks. You’ll actually want to put in the work over a whole study period because it will be much more valuable and rewarding. Scott Kilvington was one adviser fulfilled by his experience, noting the quality of the subject materials and support resources. Taking the time to complete the readings, activities and assessments in detail helped him gain substantial understanding and knowledge.

Myth six: You don’t need to study to pass the exam.

That may be the case for some advisers, but everyone’s different. Almost half of advisers resitting the FASEA exam fail a second time. Advisers who haven’t studied or sat a lengthy exam in a while often complete one or more of the bridging courses before they attempt the FASEA exam. These subjects cover core content assessed in the FASEA exam, so it helps advisers reinforce knowledge and build their confidence. John Core was an adviser who completed the Kaplan Adviser Practice Exam and ethics bridging course as part of his preparation before he attempted the FASEA exam. He was adamant this helped him to be in a confident state of mind to pass the FASEA exam.

Final thoughts

Don’t listen to everything you hear. Take the time to ask the questions you need to. Join a return to study information session and look at the subject matter and the assessments. Don’t leave it to the last minute; you’ll benefit if you start sooner rather than later.

Please contact Kaplan Professional if you need help. We’ll help you get started with a comprehensive and personalised study pathway that will provide you with the confidence you need to tackle your studies.
We’re already supporting thousands of your peers on their journey and we’re ready to welcome you too. We’ll do everything we can to help you achieve FASEA’s education requirements.


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