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About to start Kaplan course, "professional"* views?

Discussion in 'Financial Planning Study Group' started by CJ. Wentworth, 20th Apr, 2008.

  1. CJ. Wentworth

    CJ. Wentworth Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    9th Mar, 2008
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    Location:
    Cairns, QLD
    Hey guys, I'm about to enroll in Kaplan's Diploma of Financial Services (Financial Planning) and was wondering if there are any "professionals"* here who'd like to comment about the course.

    I have done a forum search and have read the threads that mention the Kaplan courses but would like to direct the question more towards any FP's/Accountants/Current Students, etc who regular this forum.

    Am I "wasting" my time doing this course (from the sounds of it I'm not, but wondering what the "insiders" think). If so, what should I be focusing on if I want to get into the FP world?

    Is this all I'll need to get into Paraplanning > Financial Planner, or just a foot in the door? What's the next step after completion of this course... Advanced Diploma?

    Thanks enormously.

    *I dislike the use of the term "professional" here but I couldn't think of the word I wanted. >.>


    *************

    A bit about me.

    I'm 22 years old and living in Cairns.

    Currently I'm a Full Time Sales Consultant (mobile phones). I started September last year and am in the top 5% of sales people for the company in Australia. Before that I was a croupier. My base wage is 31k a year, but with Commissions that's sitting at around 45k.

    I currently service one loan (90k, PI, variable 8.88%) for a block of Land at Forrest Beach, which I realize is not the most tax effective way of investing, but I'm still happy with it. My current balance is 70k. I put ~500 a fortnight into the loan on top of the repayment at the end of the month, and have been doing so reliably for the past 2 years (including job transition and relocation)

    I live off my Credit Card *gasp*, however it's by choice. I buy/pay for everything I can with my Credit Card, taking advantage of the 55 days interest free. I pump most of my money into my Loan and when it comes to ~50 days of my Interest Free period, either withdraw money, or plan my pay period to coincide with the appropriate date.

    I hold 200 NAB shares purchased at $29... been a shaky ride the last few weeks, down to 26 and up to 32, but I'm in there for the long term :). I withdrew from my Land Loan, which again is not the best way to do things I know, but I have figured out the appropriate % of non-deduction/deduction (~7%). I realize that any extra repayments into my loan with reduce the small portion of deductibility I may have granted myself.

    I don't drink/smoke and have very minimal living expenses. Including rent, I cost myself ~$150-175 a week.


    I may leave it at that as I could talk/type your head off heh. Didn't intend for this to become an Introduction post as I've been lurking for a bit, but meh! May as well get the intro's out of the way
     
  2. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Co-founder Staff Member

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    Hi CJ.

    Just wondering about your block of land - do you intend to develop it?

    ... and a suggestion - you should really investigate offset accounts for your loans to avoid contaminating the tax-deductible borrowings.

    Do you use an accountant to prepare your tax returns? I would suggest you do so - since I suspect you are digging yourself a bit of a hole in regards to your tax affairs with the property and the loans.

    Just a couple of suggestions.

    PS. welcome to the forums!
     
  3. AsxBroker

    AsxBroker Well-Known Member

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    Hi CJ,

    The DFS (FP) is a good start, other Registered Training Organisations also offer the DFS (FP) but Kaplan is the most recognised in the Financial Planning industry as they took over the Financial Planning Association of Australia's (FPA) Diploma in Financial Planning (DFP) a few years ago. If your very keen you can join the FPA on a student membership.

    Start with the Entry Level Competency and Risk Management, after you've completed those two subjects you can start looking for paraplanning roles (maybe even after ELC but two is obviously better).

    The Advanced Diploma is the natural progression, after completing the eight subjects you'll have the equivalent of the "old" DFP.

    Recruitment agencies are funny places, they love you if they think they can place you (they get paid around 20% of your first year salary) in the first few years your not very important to them as the salary isn't that astounding. A few years later when your salary should be double or more, they'll be begging you to come in.

    Anyway, getting cracking on those subjects.

    Cheers,

    Dan

    PS You better start liking the word "professional" as the FPA is extremely keen to get Financial Planning understood as a profession as opposed to being seen as a sales job.
     
  4. CJ. Wentworth

    CJ. Wentworth Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Posts:
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    Location:
    Cairns, QLD


    Thanks for the advice Sim. I have looked into the idea of Offset accounts, and to be honest it's one of my favourite subjects to bring up when talk to others about their financial situations. IO + 100% offset, seems like you can't go wrong. But it always seems so much easier to comment on other peoples situations. Heh.

    I've decided that my next foray into the share market will be via Margin Lending or some other form of loan.

    And yes I do plan on developing my block, but as I've owned it for coming up 2 years now and haven't really progressed much further than paying abit of the loan, I'm a little hesitant to start claiming the interest as a deduction as there isn't really a papertrail to follow. I realize that if the intention of purchasing a block is to build on for investment purposes, then you can claim the interest as a deduction, but from what I've learnt you'll need a pretty good papertrail.


    I did consider to stop paying extra into my loan after purchasing the shares as it would make it much more difficult to calculate the interest that would be deductible vs that which wouldn't be, but if worse comes to worse I just won't claim any interest as a deduction. Better safe than sorry.

    Thanks for the suggestion though and I will take it on board. I've been meaning to get in touch with an accountant about my situation but I don't think the numbers are big enough to offset the cost. Granted that's probably a very naive view of the profession.
     
  5. CJ. Wentworth

    CJ. Wentworth Well-Known Member

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    Will do! Thanks for the reply Dan. From what I can understand it sounds like after/during the course I should be approaching Recruitment Agencies? Or are you suggesting I ignore them when they come for me?

    Also how much benefit would there be in doing the Advanced diploma, or does that depend on what kinda of planner I plan on being.
     
  6. AsxBroker

    AsxBroker Well-Known Member

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    Hi CJ,

    I would start approaching them after your first or second subject. I would say be wary of them as the are doing their job (ie, placing someone into a vacant position). Like everywhere else, the good ones are hard to find and there are many others out there.

    If you want to do more than being an Associate Planner or Paraplanner (and receive the corresponding pay) you will be expected to complete the Advanced Dip.

    Cheers,

    Dan
     
  7. Property WA

    Property WA Active Member

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    Location:
    Perth, WA
    Hi CJ,

    I'd recommend Kaplan courses.

    I've done the Diploma and now doing the Advanced. I've done courses via correspondance and facilitated and I'd only ever do the Facilitated again. You get alot more out of the course and the lectures are nornally a wealth of info.

    UNFORTUNATELY the Dip. is all you need to get you Financial Planning license, which I personally think is totally inedaqute and why the industry is frought with so many cowboys. The Advanaced Dip should be compulsory but is not so I chose to do it and got quite a bit more out of it.

    There's degreess if you want to take the next step but I'd get into an FP firm, get them to pay for both your Dip and Adv. Dip then think about further study once tose are done.

    PS I'm 24 and was in a similar situation (though I didnt read all your post in detail). :)
     
  8. Nigel Ward

    Nigel Ward Team InvestEd

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    Absolutely agree with Prop WA here. The Tribeca/Kaplan course for the diploma of financial planning is a good introduction but totally inadequate for someone to advise people about investing their life savings. Sorry - just not good enough. Not only would you want an adviser with great qualifications but also some investing experience (not necessarily life experience i.e "grey hair"). I think a client has a right to be appalled if an adviser is suggesting something they've never invested in themselves and has only read about the theory in a textbook...

    Sorry will get off the soapbox now. :rolleyes:

    Cheers
    N
     
  9. CJ. Wentworth

    CJ. Wentworth Well-Known Member

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    While I do agree with you there Nigel, we've all got to start somewhere :), unfortunately I wasn't as focussed early on in life, so this is a good place for me to start :)

    I'm hoping to use Welcome to the Mnemosyne Project | The Mnemosyne Project to help with my memory retention with my course. I've heard that the theory behind the program works great, and I can understand it to boot.

    Anyone in the Cairns area also studying?
     
  10. Insan3

    Insan3 Active Member

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    Location:
    Cairns, QLD
    Hi CJ - current Kaplan Dip.FS(FP) student, current Planner Assistant, current Cairns resident!! I tick all the boxes!!

    I'm just finishing up my 2nd subject (IP1), sitting the exam soon. Started the course in Feb, completed ELC, managed to get an entry-level Planner Assistant job. Found it is a little hard in Cairns - more about who you know than what you know. Took a few months to get this role - also didn't help not working in the industry (I have a banking background but was helping my family building business).

    The Kaplan course is the one to do. As mentioned, the Dip is all you need, but I have found many more places are requesting the Adv.Dip. Price of progression in the industry I guess. Again, as mentioned, this is a good thing. The Diploma really isn't that hard. The exams are open-book, so even the memory requirement is reduced.

    So, start the course, and start applying for jobs - might get lucky, might not. Getting the foot in the door was my challenge, but now I am in a FP firm I am very happy. I had to take a pay cut ($42.5k to $38) but after 6 weeks working there, the directors decided (without my consultation or input) that they would pay for the remainder of my Diploma, then promote me to Paraplanner. Then pay for Adv Dip and promote to Review/Development Planner once complete. So I am happy. Free study and progression path already lined up. And seeing what happens hands-on is so much better than reading the theory books from Kaplan.
     
  11. AsxBroker

    AsxBroker Well-Known Member

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    Hi Insan3,

    It's good to see another eager planner helping our fellow Australians who need advice on planning their futures.

    I know that another InvestEd member Temjin is also in QLD and was getting a bit disheartened by the crass approach taken by recruitment/personnel agencies.

    After reading your success story about getting in to the industry, now it's all systems go.

    PS Don't blame Kaplan for RG146 open book exams, it's ASICs fault. I think Mark L rang up ASIC asking some questions and they said that it's up to each individual licensee to interpret. From memory, AMP FP had their own interpretation and got hung out to dry...

    Cheers,

    Dan
     
  12. Insan3

    Insan3 Active Member

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    Cairns, QLD
    Hi Dan,

    It's a little sad, the industry has so much potential, but so much baggage from the past. The training really needs to be boosted to weed out some of the more questionable operators.

    The major problem I found with recruitment agencies is they don't always understand the industry, or the requirements for the jobs they are trying to fill. Also, some companies are now advertising for support staff to have Dip.FP's! Now why would anyone with a Diploma and RG146 accred. spend time in a $40k/yr support role, knowing they are of equal qualifications to the Planners they support... They will try and chase the $75k/yr Big 4 Planning jobs

    I personally knew with myself (and I feel the same about people who spend their personal time on forums like this learning and discussing) that if I got an opportunity of any kind, I would make the most of it and succeed. I have an interest that I want to build into a career. Usually I tell people applying for jobs (my fiancee just landed a new job yesterday!) to hold out for what you want, but in this industry I feel it is a matter of getting in, work hard for a year in whatever role and doors will open.

    So to CJ, Temjin, everyone else, start the course and keep your head up even if you get knockbacks. I would have received about 15 NO's for the various roles I applied for (Ranging from Paraplanner to Planner Assistant, back to Banking roles such as BDM Support and Branch Management - my background is Banking, and I was considering going back there for 2 years and completing my Dip/AdvDip). Then I got a YES, and even though I am at the bottom, the organisation wants to grow which will present opportunities.

    Sorry for the long post, good to talk about my struggles/experiences with others who understand.

    Cheers,
    Matt
     
  13. CJ. Wentworth

    CJ. Wentworth Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the reply Insan3. It's heartening to hear that there are opportunities outside of the capital cities.

    I'm currently trudging my way through ELC 1. :).

    How did the exams work for you living in Cairns? Did Kaplan set up an superviser and location or did you have to (if so, where?)
     
  14. Insan3

    Insan3 Active Member

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    Location:
    Cairns, QLD
    Hi CJ,

    For the exams, you need to have Submitted your Assignment and obtained a 'Competent' mark. Once passed, you go to the Forms & Kits section of the Kaplan website and download an Exam Booking form - http://www.kaplanprofessional.edu.au/cms/data/live/resources/FS/Assessment/Exam_Booking_Form.pdf

    You'll have 2 options:
    1) Book an exam time at their offices in Brisbane. This means you will need to fly down and attend at your own cost. First sit exam is free (included in course fees.)
    2) Book an exam time in Cairns, at a business address. Cost is $150 and they send a supervisor out to you.

    Few other options, online exam or paper-based, etc, etc.

    Give yourself plenty of time before the exam (3-4 weeks). Kaplan take about a week to do anything - Return emails, confirm exam booking, etc, etc.

    I sat the exam at my parent's business office, online. The supervisor turns up, checks some ID, checks you correctly login, then sits there quietly for 2.5hrs while you do the exam.

    Now that work is paying for me, they (my employers) will allow me to sit them at my place of work.

    It becomes another motivation to study.... fail a couple of assignments and first sit exams and it ends up costing plenty of $$$.
     
  15. CJ. Wentworth

    CJ. Wentworth Well-Known Member

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    Thanks again for the reply Matt. Looks like it'll be cheaper setting up an exam in Cairns (unless I manage to snag a few Jetstar cheapies). The biggest hurdle will be finding an appropriate place to do the exam, but that being said I haven't really looked.

    Luckily I have family in Brissie, and plenty of time ahead of me, so I'll probably look at planning a holiday around exam time :)... hopefully without too many distractions lol
     
  16. Temjin

    Temjin Active Member

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    Brisbane
    Hey Insan3,

    Congratulations on getting your foot into the industry! As AsxBroker have mentioned, I am still having difficulties with doing that. You were definitely be in a much better position than I am in getting a placement in the industry anyway. Your previous background in banking was definitely a big plus. Unfortunately, because I had NIL relevant industry experiences, I was repeatedly bounced back by these recruitment agents. My 2+ years experience as a mechanical engineer with contract management (lots of negotation, client facing and administration) and project management experiences were of little use.

    In addition, the level of paycut you are willing to take is more..well..."believable and acceptable" TO the recruitment agents themselve. Yes, I meant to THEM, not to you. It's amazing that I have at least one agent coming back to me saying he hestiate to introduce me to his clients because he classified me as a high risk candidate who would be more easily poached as soon as I gained relevant experiences in the industry. This is because the level of pay cut I am facing here compared to my current level is quite significant. I'm on close to $60k at the moment, and I am willing to take a low $40k salary. I've tried applying for "support" roles on these salary but were bounched back because they weren't "entry" level role. Disheartening. :)

    AsxBroker advised me to finish my diploma first before going back out on job hunting. I believe I had unrealistic expectations on what kind of roles I would be offered, especially when I have not completed my diploma yet. Trying to persuade a recruitment agent to get me a junior paraplanner role was next to impossible.

    Right now, I am concentrating on targeting the hidden job market. I have done a fair bit of networking lately by attending various events, especially those organised by Finsia. In fact, I did meet a financial planner in one of the previous Finsia function. He has been, and still is currently, extremely helpful in assisting me to find a job. Just few days ago he rang me about a potential contact he got in touch with who might be interested in me. So fingers crossed with that one. :) Not to mention he has been inviting me to different networking functions that has financial planners in them. In fact, I will be going to another one with him next Wednesday.

    Now someone would think, why not work for his firm? There was a position open for a financial planner assistant and I did went for the interview. However, I was not offered, or rather, I did not take the "offer" for certain reasons. On the good side, they gave me ALOT of compliments. Saying I was extremely well qualified for the role and have no doubts I would do a great job. On the other hand, they also believed they could not offer me the type of career path I was really looking for. This was a national firm with the majority of their staff in Sydney/Melbourne, including ALL of their paraplanners. Their Brisbane branch was rather small with only 3 FPs, so there was very little, if none, future prospect of promotion into a more technical role. They told me they were really looking for someone "less" qualified and is willing to take a $35-$38k salary and do it (without getting bored) for 3+ years. I couldn't hide from the fact that I need to be intellectual challenged and want to move onto a paraplanner role in a future. They believed that it was in my best interest to look elsewhere that could offer me that, and also in their best interest to not to waste resource by training me and then me having to leave after 6-12 months. The good thing I got out of all this was lots of career advises and gave me ALOT of confidence as the manager said he would seriously take me in NO SWEAT if I was in Sydney due to the amount of opportunities there. I do not think he was lying at all.

    Anyway, I will be signing up for the Finsia Mentor program as a mentoree. This would be a great opportunity for me as having a senior financial planner to act as my mentor (EVEN before I start into the industry) should be an extremely rewarding experience. Not to mention it would provide me with alot more contacts to increase my chance of getting a job in the industry. So I would suggest anyone who is interested in being mentored should sign up for the program.

    Sorry for the long post, just felt like talking about where I am going right now. :)

    So it's time to speed up my studies first, get my diploma, then job hunt via DIRECT contact with employers and do tons of networking.

    (P.S: I'm almost done with Investment Planning, probably will only take just a little less than 3 weeks. hahah Just realised it is the assignment that is taking most of my time, so I started working on it while I was going thru the modules)

    Ohhh, and good luck too CJ.

    Cheers,

    Temjin
     
  17. bennymarsh

    bennymarsh Well-Known Member

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    I'll put my 2 cents in for posterity purposes.

    I was a research scientist for 3 years, and due to funding issues/boredom/politics of science community, i decided that it wasn't going to be a stable profession for me. I had a mate who had done his DFP through integratec (---> Tribeca ----> Kaplan ----> ????? :p) after doing his science degree and had become a planner, so he suggested that as a worst case scenario, so ELC, i would learn a little about managing my own finances, and hopefully be able to get a job in the industry.

    After i had finished, i tried applying for jobs, must have sent 50 resume's, not a single reply! But i enjoyed the course, decided it was what i wanted to do, found a lab that had a year of funding, so made a deal with them that i would work for another year, and did Super and Risk.

    Once the year was nearly up and i had completed the 2 subjects, i sent off another 50 resume's and got 1 response. The recruiter asked me to come in, i blew his socks off, he sent me for the interview with the company, and they rang back an hour later offering me the job as a client service officer.

    I was a CSO for around 9 months, company paid for 2 more DFP subjects, they put on a training planner role and promoted me into the job, got me accredited, promoted me, promoted me again, and it is all going very well as a planner.

    So the DFP through Kaplan is a good place to start to get you a job. I have to say it didn't teach me a lot, i learnt mainly on the job, so find a FP who is willing to train you up, and you need to find a way to sell yourself to the planning companies to show them you will work out. If a scientist can talk his way into a planning company, anyone can!

    After a DFP type course that gets your foot in the door, I am now doing a Masters of Fin Planning course (i should be studying for my tax planning exam instead of writing this!), all of which is paid for by the company (ALWAYS GET THE COMPANY TO PAY!!!!!), and "may" do the CFP down the line (although after 4 years i need a break from studying!).

    Ben
     
  18. bennymarsh

    bennymarsh Well-Known Member

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    P.S. if you need a job, just start ringing planning groups and asking for interviews. They ALWAYS need entry level staff! And if they don't, they will know someone who does (because they have probably been trying to head hunt staff away from them!).
     
  19. sezzard

    sezzard New Member

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    Also agree with Nigel in regards to Advisers giving advice without experience or adequate knowledge of investments. It shouldnt be allowed!

    I have completed the dip of FS through Finsia (now KAPLAN) and I have been paraplanning for a few years. (I have no interest in becoming an Adviser) Nowadays you need to have at least the Diploma before starting as a Paraplanner. Entry level in FP is usually a Planner Assistant where you learn as much as possible before moving up. Once your Dip is finished you can start paraplanning. It is standard practise (from my experience) for most businesses to only allow you to give advice to clients once you have started or near completion of the Advanced Dip. (Banks wont look at you for an advice role unless you have this)

    In regards to your initial question, I highly recommend KAPLAN. They were very supportive when I was completing my diploma and it is the most comprehensive Diploma available. So you can have peace of mind knowing that you are getting the best information possible from them compared to other Financial Institutions.

    Hope this helps.
     
  20. Temjin

    Temjin Active Member

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    Bennymarsh, can you please list some examples of these "planning groups" that have offices around Brisbane? I have compiled a list of FP firms in Brisbane CBD so far through yellow page but have yet to approach them directly. Just waiting to get my RG146 compliance before doing so as I believe it would give me a much better chance.

    I totally given up on these recruitment agencies now. Approached another two today for some really entry level type role and heh, same story. :)

    Will have to tackle this differently.

    Cheers,

    Temjin