Control, confidence and clarity

15 June 2018

Man wearing shirt, tie and glasses looks into the distance as he contemplates undertaking the CFP® Certification Program

Shane Nicholas

Shane Nicholas is a Director and Principal Wealth Consultant at Innate Financial Services Group.

Shane Nicholas CFP® is closely involved with the CFP® Certification Program. He provides some valuable insights on the program and some handy tips for students.


Name: Shane Nicholas CFP®

Position: Director and Adviser

Practice: Innate Financial Services Group

Licensee: Innate Financial Services Group

FPA Professional Practice: Yes

CFP® practitioner since: 2007

Years as a financial planner: 15


1. What is your involvement with the CFP® Certification Program?

My current involvement with the CFP® Certification Program is reasonably diverse in that I write assignments and exams, and I am a regular presenter of online tutorials across CFP2, CFP3 and CFPC.

2. How did you become involved as a tutor, writer and committee member of the CFP® Certification Program?

I was introduced to FPA Technical Education Manager, Diem La CFP® by a colleague in 2012. From there, the work I do with the FPA has evolved, as the FPA has continued to evolve the CFP® Certification Program.

3. What is your motivating passion for the CFP® Certification Program?

As a boutique business, we have limited capacity to make a significant contribution to the profession and its improvement. So, my motivation to be involved in the CFP® Certification Program is to help improve the education of financial planners undertaking the program, as well as provide some practical insights into the program.

Importantly, being part of the CFP® Certification Program is something that I thoroughly enjoy, particularly the online tutorials, as it’s a chance to interact with a wide range of people who are happy to challenge and be challenged in the pursuit of a greater understanding of the topic we are discussing, which is not only satisfying but personally rewarding.

4. As one of the main contributors to the online tutorials, what is your process in preparing and delivering your tutorials?

When I am learning or studying, I personally prefer to be spoken to rather than being spoken at, which is a philosophy I have when presenting the online tutorials. Student interaction in an online format can be difficult, so when I am presenting an online tutorial, I like to ask open questions with the view to having input from the audience. By doing so, the collective learning of the audience is enhanced. This is much better than me simply talking for the duration of the session.

In addition, I always encourage the participants to provide open and fair feedback. This enables sessions to evolve to suit the requirements of the participants. Over the past five years, I have witnessed significant adjustments both in the format and the delivery of these sessions, which is a direct result of this feedback. That’s a great result for all involved.

5. What are your three best study tips for anybody undertaking the CFP® Certification Program?

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, nothing beats preparation and using the FPA resources that are available to participants of the program.

In addition, it’s always useful for participants to try and think about how an assessor might interpret their answers when piecing together assignment or exam questions. That’s because often what’s in our mind as a student doesn’t necessarily translate clearly on paper. As such, looking at the question through a different lens can often provide a good result.

6. What does being a ‘professional’ mean to you?

Being a professional is about having an unwavering commitment to provide solutions and outcomes to clients that provide them with a clear sense of control, courage, clarity and confidence to lead a better life.

In our business we have a saying – If our clients win, we also win – and this simple philosophy captures some of what a professional should be committed to.

7. What advice do you have for any planner considering undertaking the CFP® Certification Program?

Get started! It’s clear to me with FASEA and some of the expected findings from the Hayne Royal Commission that being educated places you in a better position to make better decisions for your clients. So my question is: What are you waiting for?

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