Advice inspired award winner to help others

23 March 2022

Money & Life team

Money & Life contributors draw on their diverse range of experience to present you with insights and guidance that will help you manage your financial wellbeing, achieve your lifestyle goals and plan for your financial future.

Danica Lozada CFP®

Gwen Fletcher Memorial Award Winner, 2022

Educational Qualifications: Bachelor of Business, Banking & Finance, Diploma of Financial Planning, Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning

Position: Senior Advice Compliance Analyst

Practice: Industry Fund Services

CFP® designation: February 2022

It was her passion for helping others that first led 2022 Gwen Fletcher Memorial Award Winner Danica Lozada CFP® to become a financial planner. After joining industry super fund Cbus as a graduate, she soon found herself drawn to the work of the financial planning team.

“I remember when I first joined Cbus, I was just so intrigued by what super was about – encouraging people to save for their future, for their retirement,” she says. “I had a look at that career opportunity, and it really spoke to me, because it does help people.”

She started studying for the CFP® Certification Program when she was working as a financial planner in 2018. After a career break overseas, she resumed the program in 2020, while working in a compliance role with Industry Fund Services.

“The feeling of getting that CFP® designation is so special because I had put so much work into the course, but to get the award was really the icing on the cake,” she says.

The Melbourne-based Senior Advice Compliance Analyst has also spent time as a financial planner, a vocation she hopes to return to in the future.

“Completing the CFP® certification opens up a range of career opportunities, including a possible return to providing client advice and removing financial stress from peoples’ lives, which was one of my key motivations to become a financial planner,” she says.

“Helping people navigate through the financial world is something that I’m quite passionate about.”

From advice to compliance

It was her desire to learn more about the financial planning landscape, coupled with regulatory changes, that led Danica to move into a compliance role.

“When the code of ethics came out it was one of those times when you stop and ask yourself, am I doing the right thing as an advisor?” she says.

“It triggered me to jump into compliance to learn for myself, rather than relying on others to tell me whether I’m doing the right thing or not.”

Like many in the profession, Danica has found the shifting landscape challenging, but ultimately, she believes it can only enhance the value for clients.

“I think it’s only changing for the better,” she says. “It’s a good thing to make sure the education requirements are fit for purpose.”

An international qualification

While she’s always been keen to pursue more in-depth knowledge of financial planning, it was a working holiday overseas that really opened Danica’s eyes to the value of the CFP® designation around the world.

“Having lived in multiple countries, a certification that’s recognised worldwide is really important to me,” she says.

“When I was looking for jobs in financial advice in London they kept asking if I had my CFP®. So, it was one of those things I wished I had done before I went to work over there.”

Upon returning to Australia, Danica knew she wanted to finish her qualification. To give herself the best chance of success, she decided to commit one day per week to her studies.

“I really wanted to focus on learning the content that’s provided and not just skimming through it, she says. “I wanted to get as much from it as possible, so I went down to four days a week with my current role.”

A keen student, Danica found the CFP® program to be very comprehensive and a great way to round out her financial planning knowledge.

“I really appreciated the practical aspects of the CFP® Certification Program, those real-life experiences are so helpful, whether you’re providing advice or doing the work that I do now in reviewing advice,” she says.

An important role for financial advice

Like many in the industry, Danica has observed the growing need for access to financial advice, coupled with a shrinking pool of professionals. She points to the wealth accumulating in superannuation as an example, noting that for most people, superannuation is the biggest asset they’ll ever own outside of their home.

According to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, Australians had $3.4 trillion invested in superannuation at the end of the September 2021 quarter. Yet, figures consistently show that a majority of people don’t have enough saved to live a comfortable life in retirement.

That’s why Danica believes financial planners will continue to play a big role in helping Australians manage their financial health and wellbeing. But she says more should be done to educate people from an earlier age.

“It would be good to improve the financial education our children receive, to make sure everyone understands the basics from an early age,” she says. “I don’t think that exists at the moment and it does need to be looked at.”

Looking to the future

While the need for financial advice continues to grow, it’s no secret that the number of qualified financial planners has fallen in recent years. With all of the changes to education standards and regulations, Danica observes that it has become more difficult for clients to access the advice they need.

And, like many of her peers, she believes there’s a great opportunity to attract more women to the industry, helping grow the number of financial planners and improve diversity across the board.

“I think it’s a profession that would appeal to a lot of women, but there needs to be more of a call-out in terms of attracting women to the industry,” she says.

“There’s an image that financial advice is a male industry. I think that’s changing, and it’s becoming more apparent that there’s a need for greater (diversity).”

Future opportunities abound

With CFP® designation in hand, Danica spies unlimited opportunities for career growth in the financial planning profession. The common thread that guides her is the chance to help others navigate their finances and, ultimately, enjoy a comfortable life.

“Becoming a CFP® professional has opened my eyes up to all of the other opportunities out there, from providing business insurance advice to other things you probably wouldn’t hear of in the retail space. So, I would like to see myself working for a private firm, providing advice, that would be the dream.”

The Gwen Fletcher Memorial Award

The Gwen Fletcher Memorial Award was established in 2014 in memory of Gwen Fletcher AM, who is considered by many to be the ‘first lady’ of financial planning.

The award honours in perpetuity the memory of Gwen Fletcher, and supports one of her key legacies in her lifelong endeavours to champion the vital role of education and its central importance in nurturing the financial planning profession.

Gwen Fletcher was not only a respected financial planner but also an educator and mentor, and helped shape the industry into an emerging profession. She was also responsible for bringing the CFP® Mark to Australia in 1990.

The Gwen Fletcher Memorial Award is presented each semester to the highest achieving student in the CFP® Certification Unit, which covers all three required assessments in the CFP® Certification Program.

As part of the award, recipients receive a certificate of recognition, a complimentary ticket for the FPA Professionals Congress and $1,000, which is funded by the FPA.

You may also be interested in