BECOME A MEMBER OF THE PROFESSION OF INDEPENDENT FINANCIAL ADVISERS, AND discover how to reposition your practiCe to be more valuable and more personally satisfying into 2020.
Transition to the Gold Standard of Independence
For about a decade now the Profession of Independent Financial Advisers has been coaching advisers on what it takes to become independent and the benefits of going down that path for both the adviser and the client.
Some of the coaching points are structural (the nuts and bolts of actually being independent) and some are behavioural (the sort of mindset that works).
Its purpose is to equip them with everything they need to transition from wherever they are today into Gold Standard of Independence so they can promote themselves as such.
Already independent? Click here to visit the “What if I already quality as independent’ section of our FAQs.
Immediately after the 2019 Royal Commission into Misconduct in Financial Services, the Profession of Independent Financial Advisers (PIFA) launched an Australia-wide survey into public attitudes towards financial planning.
Dialling 75,000 people aged 40-55, this survey is many times larger than the polls used by political media to analyse election outcomes.
Although the majority of respondents said there is value in financial advice, they also said…
However most financial advisers are not set up this way, mainly due to myths about the viability of an independent model, plus the lack of a clear pathway to become independent.
As an Associate of the Profession you will master a whole new value paradigm for the consumer…
What our members say:
“what made you decide to become independent?”
HEAR FROM OUR MEMBERS
the path to professionalism
That’s the name of a new online, self-paced certification program that guides and supports you through every step of the process to become a registered member of a Profession in financial advice that practises the Gold Standard of Independence™.
The program is only available to Associate members of the Profession of Independent Financial Advisers, the Profession’s entry membership which coaches advisers through the transition to independence.
WHAT’S INCLUDED IN YOUR MEMBERSHIP
YOU’LL GET INSTANT ACCESS TO:
What our members say:
“What advice would you give to advisers
considering making the transition?”
AS A MEMBER OF THE PROFESSION YOU WILL LEARN EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT…
Each module within the program has assessment pieces and set exercises that must be completed before a member can advance to the next module. Participants have a dashboard on their home screen which shows their progress in the course, and the course administrator is also able to monitor the progress of individual participants.
Overview of the
“Path to Professionalism” eCourse
There are 8 sequential modules in the eCourse that take you through every aspect of structuring yourself as a genuine independent, learning the codes of conduct of the Profession, through to completion whereupon your advice is certified to meet the Gold Standard of Independence™
This self-paced course takes between 30 days to 18 months to work through – the adviser’s pace-to-completion is pretty much commensurate with their motivation to get results. On completion the Associate member is now a full, practising member of a recognised profession.
(By the way, this term, ‘recognised profession’, is no misnomer nor trite throw-away one-liner… the Profession has an application for a Professional Standards Scheme in progress with the Professional Standards Council.
You’ll be guided each step of the way with:
PLUS you’ll attain CPD points for each element you complete.t
What it means to be a practising member of a recognised profession
Turning off asset fees and commissions … profitably
How to charge and collect fees as a genuinely independent financial adviser
Setting sail for the New World
Establishing what services you will provide as an independent financial adviser
Client Acquisition Strategies
Connecting Purpose and Process to Outcomes
Preparing for the New World
Setting sail for the New World
Client Acquisition Strategies
Becoming a member of a recognised profession
Becoming a member of a recognised profession
In this module you’re going to explore the crucial concepts of what it means to be a member of a recognised profession, and how this hinges on an essential ingredient – genuine independence of the adviser.
You’re going to really dig into what independence means, both from a legal perspective as well as what it means in the minds of your clients.
You’re going to examine specific examples taken straight ‘from the trenches’ and untangle where the problems can come from, what you can do about it, and the benefits to you and to your client.
In the process you’ll clear away any confusion that might exist about independence and what it takes to achieve it so that you can make quick and satisfying progress towards your career as a Practising Member of the Profession of Independent Financial Advisers.
The purpose of Module 2, Monetising Independence, is to explore how you earn your fees as a genuinely independent financial adviser, free of any links to transactions or products.
In this Module you’re going to make a practical examination of the various options for structuring independent remuneration, a critical element of being a practising member of a recognised Profession.
This module dispels two myths about being independent:
You’re going to look at the various methods of charging and take a ‘deep dive’ into the pros and cons of each, and learn how to implement the right one for you.
Module 3 builds on the last session and uncovers additional opportunities for service that arise for Independent Financial advisers as they set professional service standards.
In the new world you won’t be concentrating so hard on product. You’ll therefore consider what services you can provide that add value but don’t involve transactions necessarily.
We’re going to start by answering the question “what’s your Independent Financial Adviser DNA?”. Your IFA DNA is that unique set of decisions that you make about how you want to practise your profession, and this gives voice to the combination of choices you’ll make about your service that is uniquely yours. Having a succinct and compelling answer to this question not only helps your prospective clients but provides clarity for you too.
In the process we’re going to unpack the different types of service structures, from transactional through to modular through to ongoing, and you’ll establish minimum standards that safeguard your independence and professionalism, in a way that avoids any risk of being accused you’re not earning your fees plus any risk your client is not crystal clear on what to expect.
And we’ll look at the opportunities that exist to add value as a genuinely independent adviser and how this frees you from any product-centricity that might exist on some level in your service offering.
This is a very significant module because you’re going to redefine the value you provide as a genuinely independent financial adviser. You’re going to do that by taking a walk through your service … in your client’s shoes. You’re going to rediscover financial planning as just that – planning: an iterative, engaging, collaborative process.
The process of planning creates clarity, making it possible to formulate advice. Advice gives your client the direction so essential to making progress, which builds the motivation to keep working with you towards their desired results. And results? That’s where the value is.
The purpose of module 5, ‘Repositioning the Relationship’, is to put into place the final pieces of the puzzle so that you have all the necessary tools to start transitioning your clients into the New World.
You’ll evaluate your licensing options so you can get the clarity you need to make smart decisions about how your practice should be positioned for the future you want. You will use the ‘variable income flowchart’ to establish key milestones and develop the last remaining tools you will need to move forward, equipped with a transition plan, prioritised to build your revenue as you make the transition.
It’s now time to put all you’ve been doing into motion. The purpose of Module 6, ‘Transitioning to Independence, is to start implementing your plan – because that’s what’s going to get you the results you’ve been planning for.
This module contains all the tools you’ll need to develop your own agendas and positioning statements to ensure a successful transition to the New World.
Using the prioritised ‘opportunities matrix’ you created in the previous module you will reconnect with your clients to position your services in a way they can see how these changes are so important and beneficial to them.
The logical outcome is that you will move forward with the clients who place a high value on their relationship with you, which ultimately impacts positively on your bottom line.
Having now started transitioning your existing clients into the New World, the purpose of Module 7, ‘Open for New Business’, is to address how you will interact with new clients going forward.
Long experience has shown that there are common patterns in the way financial planners engage with and enrol new clients into their service offering. In this module you’ll take a closer look at these patterns in a way that reveals how they can compromise your independence, and still avoid ‘giving away the farm for free’.
In the process you will develop and document a repeatable procedure for acquiring new clients that delivers something of value without any strings attached. This frees you up to create a positive experience for the client — whether or not they do business with you — without compromising your independence. This reinforces your professionalism and leaves a trail of trust in your wake.
It’s been a journey but you’ve done it! By working through the materials and exercises in the seven modules leading up to this point, so far you have …
The purpose of this module is for you to gain the recognition you now deserve, by applying successfully to become a certified member of the first recognised profession solely for Independent Financial Advisers.
WHY THIS, WHY NOW, WHY YOU?
The Royal Commission into Financial Services concluded that the practise of giving financial advice is far from being a profession.
‘Fees for no service’, entrenched conflicts of interest, and no accountability for dishonourable conduct were paraded publicly during the hearings around the country.
Shortly after the Royal Commission we conducted an Australia-wide survey into the public’s attitudes towards financial advice and financial planners. We dialled over 75,000 phone numbers owned by 40-55 year olds and amassed a sample over three times the size of the polls the political media relies on to predict election swings. The survey found that although the majority of Australians value financial advice, they aren’t receiving it.
The survey found that the public wants advice that is independent and they want to work with a financial adviser who is a certified professional.
The Profession of Independent Financial Advisers is committed to becoming a recognised profession in financial advice.
I invite you to join us – become a member today to start your journey to the Gold Standard of Independence™ and be recognised as a certified professional.
the application process
WHO CAN APPLY?
Any fully qualified financial planner can apply, whether independent or not, to become an Associate member provided they are prepared to make the commitment to complete the eCourse within 18 months of membership. No additional fees are paid during this period. The final module in the eCourse, “Recognition”, includes the last step to become an Independent Financial Adviser member with PIFA. On successfully completing this step, membership fees are payable, refer to the FAQ below
WHAT IS THE INVESTMENT?
1) Pay a one-time fee to gain access to “The Path to Professionalism” eCourse and full access to the members-only site. That fee is listed below and no other fees are payable during that period
2) Once you have completed the eCourse you will be an Independent Financial Adviser member and annual membership dues will be payable. Refer to the FAQ section below for more information on this.
HOW DOES APPLICATION PROCESS WORK?
AS A MEMBER OF THE PROFESSION, YOU WILL HAVE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS…
We are passionate about empowering you, as an Associate Member of the Profession, with all the information you need to reposition your practice to be more valuable and more personally satisfying into 2020.
You will confidently learn how to answer the following typical questions we hear from advisers.
Regardless of an adviser’s experience in the industry or how far along the independence journey an adviser might be, there is one entry point to the Profession: the Associate class of membership. The reason why has to do with the Professional Standards Scheme’s requirement that PIFA provide evidence of membership quality standards.
To provide certainty around membership quality standards, the Professional Standards Scheme is restricted only to the Independent Financial Adviser class of membership. The Profession is burdened by the Professional Standards Authority with onerous and stringent requirements to provide evidence about the bona fides of scheme members. Applications for the Scheme are only available, therefore, to Associate members who have been through the online program “The Path to Professionalism” and are ready to apply as a full practising member.
For Associates of the Profession who are already practising as Gold Standard of Independence™ advisers their progression through the program will be much quicker than those who are starting to transition to independence.
There are two types of fees – an application fee and a membership fee.
An application fee is a one-time fee paid upfront to gain access to the eCourse and members-only site, as an Associate member. Hit the “Apply Now” button for information on application fee that currently applies.
No other fees are payable during Associate membership which expires after 18 months. This is the deadline to complete the eCourse. The last step in the eCourse ‘graduates’ an Associate member to the Independent Financial Adviser membership class, whereupon membership fees are due.
Only Independent Financial Adviser members pay membership fees, which are currently set at $2,750+GST and payable in July each year. For new members the fee is pro-rated depending on when during the year they were admitted.
There is no intention to increase fees at this time. In fact, as the company is a not-for-profit, the Board’s preference is to reduce fees for the benefit of members where the company’s membership achieves some scale into the future.
The time to completion for ‘The Path to Professionalism’ depends on two factors:
While we acknowledge that members embark on this journey with the intention being to reach the destination, rushing is counter-productive. The more care a member invests in the materials of the eCourse, the more he or she will get out of it in terms of …
Remember that one of the benefits of the eCourse is to improve the effectiveness and value of your professional practice.
The last module in the eCourse, called ‘Recognition’, includes the documentation to become an Independent Financial Adviser and participate in the proposed Professional Standards Scheme, as an independently recognised professional.
Associate membership expires 18 months after commencement and is not renewable.
No, the 18 month expiry on Associate membership is a maximum period, not a required period. It will be a very rare event for a member to take anything like the full 18 months to work through the materials.
Associate membership expires 18 months after commencement and is not renewable. The Board is at liberty to consider special circumstances (e.g. sickness, personal tragedy, etc) however complete discretion rests with the Board as a condition members agree to in their application.
The program consists of 8 sequential modules — each module and its associated assessments must be completed correctly before the next module in the sequence is ‘unlocked’. It is theoretically possible that an eCourse participant who is struggling with the material will run out of time (i.e. his or her membership will expire before the program is completed), however there are numerous support resources within the members-only site to assist progress.
No. The term of Associate membership is a continuous period of 18 consecutive months. Except in the circumstances where a member is under investigation and membership may be temporarily suspended, there are no provisions for a member to voluntarily pause membership.
No, the application fee when joining PIFA is a once-only fee. Independent Financial Adviser members pay annual membership fees in July each year, or a pro-rata thereof in the case of new members, depending on what month they are admitted into full practising membership.
No. Members are bound to abide by the company’s Constitution and By-Laws which provide that there are no refunds payable whatsoever. A cancelling member is not entitled to any type of refund nor credit.
There is no provision in the By-Laws to provide credit between membership classes.
The Associate class of membership is a one-time only membership that does not renew. The Independent Financial Adviser class of membership renews annually in June, and successfully renewing members are issued a new practising certificate in July each year.
Yes, the membership fees are pro-rated on a monthly basis towards July renewal.
These are posted out to you within 48 hours of your application being accepted. You are encouraged to display them where clients can easily see them, such as the foyer, meeting room or other client space.
Members are promoted on PIFA’s public website and through other online platforms that are interested in promoting independent advice (for instance, www.superguide.com.au). Members may also be eligible to participate in special adviser registers that are run by large organisations (such as the Australian Defence Force, for example, https://adfconsumer.gov.au/find-a-financial-adviser/).
PIFA is also active in social media, trade press and mainstream media and this activity generally results in PIFA appearing very high in online searches for independent advice or adviser. Most members report a very big uptick in the number of unsolicited online enquiries they receive by comparison to their experience prior to becoming a member.
There is also a ‘featured member’ section on PIFA’s home page which cycles weekly through the members. Once all members have been featured the rotation starts again.
There is a logo use policy published on PIFA’s public website HERE
Non members can use the ‘contact us’ facility on the public website whereas members can make use of the ‘support’ functionality through the members forum.
PIFA has reporting obligations to a number of industry stakeholders including, but not limited to, the public, regulators, professional associations and complaints resolution schemes. There is a register of all members (proposed, current and former) published on the website including their membership status:
Applicant, under assessment
Terminated by member
PIFA is not set up with call centres or sales consultants. If you have a question that doesn’t appear above then please go to the ‘contact us’ page of the public website and send us the question. We will update the FAQ section and send you the link.