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While education has long been the yardstick by which advisers are measured, the bar has been raised and standards have become more widespread than ever before. As Jason Spits explains, education has changed the face of the profession.

While school children of the 1980s were happy to chant “we don’t need no education”, their children appear to be affirming the opposite, particularly in the area of financial services where increasing numbers of people are seeking education.

According to Kaplan Professional chief executive Brian Knight, enrolments for the company’s financial planning courses in January and February of this year are up 30 per cent on 2013, reaching record levels for new enrolments.

This is good news for the advice profession, which needs to both replace retiring advisers but also expand its presence beyond the limited number of Australians who receive advice.

Given that the median age of a financial adviser is 50 years, the news that nearly 70 per cent of those enrolments were under the age of 35 further confirms the rise of the next generation of younger and more educated professional advisers.

At the same time the gender imbalance which has long been a part of financial advice appears also to be shifting, with Knight stating that 40 per cent of enrolments for 2014 are women.

It is a shift which is carrying over into the recruitment sector as well, according to Robert Walters financial services operations and financial planning manager Pamela McDonald, who states that job seekers now hold higher levels of training than five years ago.

McDonald said this was to be expected from graduates, but the trend was also appearing among more experienced planners who had seen they can no longer rely on past experience alone.

“Graduates are not as green as they have been in the past and usually have a recognised degree in financial services as well as some experience. More senior candidates are also coming with formal qualifications, demonstrating they have committed the time to educate themselves, ” McDonald said.

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