How education enhances value from advice

08 December 2021

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.

Susan Buda CFP®

Gwen Fletcher Memorial Award Winner, 2021

Educational Qualifications: Bachelor of Computing and Information Systems, Graduate Diploma Financial Planning, Master of Financial Planning

Position: Private Client Adviser

Practice: Brady & Associates

CFP® designation: November 2021

With parents working in financial planning, it makes sense that 2021 Gwen Fletcher Memorial Award Winner, Susan Buda CFP® would have a strong interest in money matters. But it took a few years for Susan to make the move into financial advice. As a career path that offers flexible opportunities to women of all ages, Susan found that a role in her parents’ financial planning practice was a positive choice to make after starting a family of her own.

“I’ve always had an interest in financial matters, savings and investments and looking back on it now, I took a lot of that knowledge for granted,” says Susan. “After starting a family, I decided to change careers and joined my parents in their financial advice business in 2011. I soon realised that the aspects I really enjoyed about my previous career – engaging with clients, providing advice and measuring success – transferred across and it was simply the subject matter that changed.”

The challenges of ownership

While Susan began her current role at Brady & Associates in Sydney in April this year, she has worked her way up through the ranks of financial advice, taking on new challenges and opportunities throughout the last decade. After four and a half years in her parents’ practice, she took charge of the business and relaunched with a new name and brand, Fluent Financial.

“I worked with the business for several years and when my parents decided it was time to retire in 2015, I took over the practice,” she says. “I rebranded and continued to run the business, providing advice to our clients until about 12 months ago. With the changing legislation and shifting environment, I felt it would be unsustainable to continue running a single-planner practice. I am now a Private Client Adviser at Brady & Associates working with a fabulous group of advisers and dedicated client services team to provide advice to our delightful clients.

Although Susan has now switched to being an employed financial planner, she continues to bring the same passion for her clients to her whole approach to financial planning. She has a commitment to their wellbeing that has remained consistent throughout her 10+ year career in financial planning.

“It’s very cliché, but what keeps me feeling most positive about the future is that I genuinely love working with my clients and seeing them realise their goals,” she says. “There is an innate sense of satisfaction that comes from being able to help my clients navigate the challenges, take advantage of the opportunities and be with them through the ups and downs. That’s why I do what I do – it’s not about the numbers, it’s about the people and discovering who they are and what really matters to them most.”

A new kind of leadership

Susan’s dedication to providing her clients with the highest standards of advice played an important part in her decision to study towards her CFP® qualification. Although she had already completed her Masters to meet FASEA requirements, she saw the benefit of applying her knowledge to new financial planning scenarios.

“The CFP® designation is internationally recognised and acknowledged as a sign of excellence in financial planning,” says Susan. “Having completed my Master’s in Financial Planning and meeting FASEA education requirements, becoming a CFP® was the logical next step. The certification program brings together all facets of financial planning and challenges you to consider all aspects of the case study before providing a solution written in easy-to understand language.”

Winning the Gwen Fletcher Memorial Award has given Susan welcome recognition of her educational achievements. She’s keen to continue pursuing pathways to more in-depth knowledge in particular areas of financial advice, as well as sharing her expertise with a new generation of financial planners.

“I plan to continue my studies in the new year, focussing on investment analysis to add another layer of depth to my knowledge and experience in this area,” she says. “Beyond that, as my personal and family commitments lessen, I would like to be involved in mentoring and guiding new planners as they move into the profession.”

What the future holds

Like many of her peers, Susan has concerns about capacity in the profession to serve the advice needs of everyday Australians. This is part of the reason why she’s motivated to provide leadership and support for the next cohort of financial advice professionals.

“The need for professional financial advice continues to grow whilst the number of financial advisers continues to dwindle,” she says. “The gap between those needing advice and those actually seeking advice widens. With experienced older advisers moving into retirement and new advisers having to meet rigorous education and professional standards, I’m hopeful that the legislative changes we’ve all had to deal with over the past several years are successful in attracting new talent to the profession and in encouraging Australians to seek professional advice to help improve their situation.”

While she acknowledges that the many changes in the advice landscape have been challenging, Susan believes they are necessary for bringing a new level of maturity to the profession. Ultimately, she feels very positive about how this next chapter in the evolution of financial planning will lift the quality of experience for clients.

“With regulatory changes maturing as we move back to normalcy, we can continue to focus on what’s important – making sure we add value to our clients by helping them enrich their lives – both personally and financially,” she says. “We are at the forefront of the shift to financial planning being recognised as a profession and although this has come with its own challenges, the profession will be recognised for the value we provide to our clients.”

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.

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