Massey University

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Sandra Durston

Sandra Durston is currently completing the Certificate in Financial Advice co-delivered by Massey University and Kaplan Professional Australia. The Certificate is mapped to and equivalent to the relevant Level 5 outcomes and has been independently validated by the Skills Organisation (Skills). This meets the standard required by the Code of Professional Conduct for Financial Advice Services in New Zealand. Sandra is an enthusiastic learner embracing the flexibility and quality of the purpose-built programme.

Sandra has extensive experience in the financial services sector across both New Zealand and Australia. She has recently taken on a role at Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) as Personal Insurance Capability Manager. In her role, Sandra looks after the training needs of a team of 19 insurance specialists. The role includes coaching and training on the technical aspects of life insurance, as well as guidance on developing soft skills. She held a similar role at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) for the past four years. As Wealth Coach at ANZ, she trained bankers in life insurance, general insurance and the voluntary superannuation scheme, KiwiSaver. Sandra has also held various leadership and management roles across accounting and banking services throughout her career.

Sandra began the Bachelor of Business (Financial Advice major) with Massey University in 2015. She had always wanted to continue her education and now had the courage and belief she could achieve more for herself. Not one to rest on her laurels, Sandra then started the Certificate in Financial Advice in 2021, while in the final stages of completing her Bachelor of Business. While the programme is a pre-requisite for her current role, she also believes in setting a positive example for her team members as they’re on their own journey to becoming financial advisers.

Despite balancing two qualifications with her work and personal commitments, Sandra has taken the heavy workload within her stride. “I wasn’t sure how I’d fit it all in as I knew I’d be juggling lots on my plate … but I’ve always loved learning and place huge value on improving my knowledge and skills,” she says. “As I was in a solid groove with my bachelor’s degree I decided to get on with it, get the Certificate in Financial Advice done, and take advantage of my study momentum.”

Based in the small rural community of the Rangitikei within the Manawatū-Whanganui region, the 100% online delivery of the Certificate in Financial Advice has been a major drawcard for Sandra. “I’ve benefited from the complete flexibility of the programme, where I can study on my terms from anywhere,” she says. “This enables me to make the most of my downtime. I can focus on my studies, while enjoying my time at home surrounded by family and many pets. I’m in a positive head space and much more relaxed. The online learning model and remote learning structure has made the experience of studying the programme seamless.”

Sandra is completing the life insurance specialisation to align with her current role and is on track to complete the Certificate in Financial Advice in early January 2022. She’s then tossing up between completing an investment specialisation (an area of personal interest) or undertaking another qualification. “I’ve learned a lot and have found the content interesting, practical and relevant,” she says. “Massey University and Kaplan Professional have brought together the best of both worlds to deliver an in-depth and high-quality programme that has provided significant benefit to me.”

Despite there being several options for Sandra to choose to complete her Level 5, Version 2 certificate, Sandra chose Massey University and Kaplan Professional’s programme after looking into all providers. “The support teams, and in particular, Jo Cullinane and Dr Jeff Stangl, did an excellent job of laying out all the options for me and what would best suit my circumstances,” she says. “I felt comfortable trusting Jo and Jeff’s advice and already had a relationship with Massey University, so it was a natural choice. It also helped that I was familiar with Massey University’s processes and systems.”

So, what’s next for Sandra Durston? Most likely something where she’s able to make a difference helping others. As a Māori woman, Sandra’s dream is to use her education and experience in a way where she’s able to support indigenous people with their financial capability and decision-making. “I love connecting with people and I’m lucky to have a financial background, so I hope I can use my bi-cultural viewpoint to make a difference,” she says. “Wealth management isn’t just about helping people amass wealth. With certain parts of society often not having the same access to these opportunities, I want to find a way where I’m able to bridge this gap. My career has led to my own investment journey where I’ve been able to build a portfolio and support my family. I wouldn’t have had that courage without the opportunities I’ve had through my education and career – what can I do to help others feel empowered to make decisions that will have a positive impact on their lives too?”

Sandra is on her way to her goal already, using her experience, and skills to train as a facilitator for a Restorative Justice provider. Sandra believes this is complementary to her job as coach within BNZ. The role within Restorative Justice allows victims and offenders to meet face-to-face in a safe and voluntary space with a facilitator. The victim gains an opportunity to have a voice, and the offender has a chance to take responsibility for their actions. “It is an absolute honour to be present at these sessions,” she says.

Sam Knight

Sam Knight has recently completed the Certificate in Financial Advice co-delivered by Massey University and Kaplan Professional Australia. The Certificate is mapped to and equivalent to the relevant Level 5 outcomes and has been independently validated by the Skills Organisation (Skills). This meets the standard required by the Code of Professional Conduct for Financial Advice Services in New Zealand.

Sam is a CFA® charterholder who has over seven years’ experience in New Zealand’s financial services sector at top-tier firms and institutions. He’s currently a Wealth Management Associate at Jarden – a leading investment and advisory group. Sam is based in the Cambridge office where he supports a network of financial advisers in Auckland and the Waikato region to help their clients achieve their financial goals. Sam primarily focuses on onboarding clients and developing their portfolios, while ensuring clients receive a high level of service and have a positive experience. Sam has also worked as a PremiunPlus Manager in Westpac’s private wealth team and a Senior Energy Analyst with NZX in Wellington.

Sam commenced the Certificate in Financial Advice in late 2020 when he was introduced to the programme through his CFA network and Dr Jeff Stangl. While the CFA designation was once a pre-requisite to become an Authorised Financial Adviser (AFA) in New Zealand, this has since changed with the introduction of the new financial advice regime. Once Sam had completed the CFA designation, he was aware of the changes and wanted to complete a high-quality and well-regarded programme that met the new requirements. “Although there were several options to choose from, flexible online delivery, practical content and reputation where important factors for me,” he said. “As Massey University and Kaplan Professional’s programme stood out in these areas, the decision was straightforward for me – so, the next steps were having Dr. Stangl map out a pathway that suited my aspirations and commitments.”

Sam noted the practical and relevant nature of the assessments and content were the major highlights of his experience completing the purpose-built programme. “I felt the programme was very hands-on and practical and this was a key factor in helping me to develop new technical knowledge and skills,” he said. “The content was focused on scenarios you can relate to in the workplace rather than academic theory. I thoroughly enjoyed the roleplay assessments, where you had to walk the client through a financial plan based on their circumstances. Any opportunity to practise client interactions is incredibly valuable.” As a full-time working professional, Sam also benefited from the flexible online delivery of the programme. “Being able to schedule my study around work and my life allowed me to comfortably balance my commitments,” he said. “I was able to study when it suited me, so I was able to really enjoy the experience.”

Sam’s long-term goal is to become a financial adviser. Now he’s met the requirements, he’s focused on working towards this goal and looks forward to taking every opportunity with open arms.

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