Better training doesn’t mean uni degrees, NIBA says

NIBA has come out heavily against proposals to mandate university degrees for financial services professionals, pushing instead for a more widespread adoption of the NIBA model.

NIBA CEO Dallas Booth has told the industry investigation into the life insurance sector’s woes, also known as the Trowbridge Report, that further analysis of the causes of bad advice in the life insurance sector should be undertaken before attempting to remedy them with reform.

A number of authorities have used recent bad behaviour in the financial services industry to reignite calls to set higher bars for professional qualifications, such as a minimum of a university degree.

“Rather than simply requiring completion of a university degree which may or may not be relevant to the life insurance sector, and the skills, knowledge and capabilities needed to give advice on life insurance, NIBA believes it is far more appropriate to provide education, training and continuing professional development in accordance with the nationally developed and approved vocational educational training framework,” he wrote in NIBA’s submission.

“It is only through the development and delivery of courses under this framework that employers, industry bodies, regulators and government can be confident that proper training is being provided, knowledge, skills and levels of competence are being developed, with a greater likelihood of quality advice being provided to customers.”

Booth also pointed out that additional legislation was not required to improve the education and training of advisers.

He says the Corporations Act 2001 already explicitly requires any financial services licensee to ensure its representatives are adequately trained and competent.

“In other words, licensees already have a direct statutory obligation to ensure that advisers are trained and competent to provide the advice they wish to offer to their clients,” Booth says.

“The obligation exists today, and through NIBA College (and other training bodies) there are nationally accredited courses that teach the knowledge, skills and competence to provide sound and professional personal life insurance advice.

“NIBA is not aware of any university course that teaches the areas of learning covered by the Diploma of Life Insurance. We are therefore very hesitant to support recommendations that advisers be required to obtain a university degree or equivalent qualification.”