With advisers required to hold a degree under the government’s draft legislation to improve professional standards, one risk specialist says he has learnt more from his work experiences than through studying for a degree.
Speaking to Risk Adviser, managing director of MediBroker, Aaron Zelman, said while he is degree-qualified, his tertiary education contributes very little to the work he does as a risk adviser.
“I personally have a master's degree in financial planning and that contributes to about five per cent of the work I do,” Mr Zelman said.
“Really, my expertise has come through learning on the job, mentoring, peer assistance as well as the input from insurance companies.
“I think quality of advice is a very important issue, but I don’t think that is actually solved by tertiary qualifications,” he said.
When asked whether he was concerned there might be an exodus of older and highly-experienced risk advisers from the industry, Mr Zelman said if it were to happen, it would be to the detriment of many people.
“There is a lot of knowledge out there held by people without degrees, and if they were to exit, it would be a big loss, not just for other advisers but for the clients that they look after,” he said.
Mr Zelman’s comments follow a survey recently conducted by Risk Adviser in which readers were asked whether they currently meet the education requirements proposed by the government’s minimum standards legislation.
Of the 156 respondents to the survey, 64.1 per cent said they currently do not meet the proposed standards, compared with 35.9 per cent who do.
In response to the government's draft legislation – which states that prior learning will be measured by the types of course that advisers have completed – the AFA said considering years of experience in lieu of degrees could prevent many advisers from retiring early.
"Older, experienced advisers who are already recognised with a strong and untarnished track record of giving quality advice, who have abided by professional association codes, and who have shown a long-term commitment to keeping their professional development current, should not be subject to unnecessary red-tape to re-validate their competence," the association said.
"Whilst in their later years as a practising adviser, the prospect of facing considerable time, cost and the stress of completing new degree-equivalent courses and doing an examination that is not reflective of operating in the advice environment, will drive a significant number of quality advisers to consider earlier retirement."
Risk Adviser is currently conducting a new poll in which advisers are being asked whether they will look to further their education to meet the requirements of the government's minimum standards legislation?