Jayson Forrest is the managing editor of Money & Life Magazine.
Raquel Netto CFP®is the seventh woman to win the Gwen Fletcher Memorial Award for being the highest achieving student in Semester 1 of the CFP®Certification Unit for 2019.
It’s a little surprising to find a passionate supporter of the Sydney Swans footy team so firmly ensconced in the Melbourne heartland of AFL, but that’s where you’ll find Raquel Netto, working as a CFP®practitioner in the office of The Wealth Mentoring Group.
But footy aside, something less surprising about Raquel is her strong advocacy of women in the workplace.
She recently featured in a video – Young Women in the Financial Planning Profession– and continues to work on inspiring other women to join the profession.
And although the 34-year-old believes gender shouldn’t matter in business, with individuals purely judged on their achievements and work, she concedes there still is a bias – unconscious or otherwise – towards women in the workplace.
“But things are changing and it’s encouraging to see more women taking on leadership roles within our profession,” she says.
“Women in business need to continue encouraging each other and celebrating our successes. We have many shared experiences and struggles, so by creating strong support networks and communities where we can share information, ideas and inspiration, this will enable us all to benefit from each other.”
Raquel acknowledges the FPA Women in Wealthnetworking events as a great initiative to advance the progression of women in the profession. She also credits much of today’s change coming from strong and inspiring leadership.
“A good leader leads by example and empowers the people around them to achieve their best. It’s about trusting people to do their job and respecting their decisions.
“It’s great to see more leaders today creating work environments that are supportive, nurturing and friendly, where common values and goals are shared,” she says. “I’m fortunate to work in such an environment, with a supportive team who work collaboratively and who are willing to share a laugh.”
For an individual who firmly believes that nothing is worth doing unless you give it your 100 per cent, it’s not surprising that this highly motivated professional took out the prestigious Gwen Fletcher Memorial Award for being the highest achieving student in Semester 1 of the CFP® Certification Unit.
Winning the Gwen Fletcher Memorial Award is an undeniable “honour” for Raquel, who says it’s recognition of the effort she has put into completing the CFP®Certification Program.
“Receiving the award in Gwen Fletcher’s name was particularly special because she was a champion for education and the role of women in the profession. I’m hopeful that my work with clients and within the profession will honour Gwen’s legacy and perhaps encourage more women to become financial planners.”
However, the mum of two young boys – aged five and eight – is no late comer to financial planning, having first joined the industry back in 2004. She credits her decision to pursue a career in financial planning to her interest in finance, which began at an early age, and also to one of her university tutors.
“I was initially studying accounting at university. One of my tutors was a financial planner and he introduced me to the idea of pursuing financial planning as a career. The thought of using my interest and knowledge of finance to help other people improve their own financial positions was very appealing.”
Raquel’s decision to become a CFP®professional kicked off in 2015, when she first began the CFP®Certification Program.
“The CFP®designation is clearly the highest designation in financial planning both in Australia and globally. I felt that by completing the program, it would allow me to demonstrate my commitment to ongoing education and upholding the high ethical standards that the profession strives for.”
With the move to higher education standards for planners, Raquel believes completing the CFP®Certification Program was her way of embracing these higher standards, while developing her knowledge and skills to become a better planner – for herself, her practice and importantly, for her clients.
However, Raquel refuses to sugar-coat the fact that completing the CFP®Certification Program was undeniably “tough”, particularly as she was juggling the demands of study, with caring for her two young sons, while working as an adviser at The Wealth Mentoring Group.
“The CFP®Certification Program is definitely challenging and it does require a big time commitment in order to undertake and complete all the study, research and assessments to the required standard.”
Raquel credits the support of her husband Gavin and the patience of her two sons as being key factors in allowing her to finish on top of the CFP®Certification Program.
“And, of course, there’s also my colleagues and extended family who were very encouraging and supportive throughout my studies. You really need that type of strong support network when tackling this type of study.”
Raquel emphasises there are no short-cuts to doing the CFP®Certification Program. It requires time, effort and commitment.
“Fortunately, my personal value system means that for any project or challenge I take on, I give it 100 per cent, because if I’m not going to give something my very best effort, then I shouldn’t be doing it,” she says.
This meant that while at work, Raquel dedicated all her energy and focus to her work, but when at home, her family got her attention. Only when her boys were safely tucked up in bed did she turn to her studies.
“This meant I was studying almost every night but it allowed me to juggle these competing demands and still have a little bit of a life on the weekends,” she laughs.
For Raquel, time management was essential for completing her studies. Each week, she would set mini goals and targets to achieve, which helped with her motivation to stay on top of her studies.
“I would advise all students to allocate sufficient time for their studies,” she says. “You really need to give the CFP®Certification Program your very best effort, because the more effort you’re able to put in, the more you will get out of the program.”
Trust your judgement
And what other advice does she have for students?
“I definitely encourage students to start their assignments as early as possible. The more time you can give yourself to complete it, the less pressure you’ll feel and you’ll end up doing a better job.”
Raquel is also an advocate of the online chat rooms available through the FPA Learnfacility, where students can not only ask questions, but also follow the discussions started by other students to gain valuable insights and tips.
FPA Learn offers students the necessary support throughout the program. This includes data and resources via an interactive student platform, live and recorded tutorials, access to self-supported study groups, dedicated subject matter experts to assist in the chat rooms, and a student help desk.
As for the exam, Raquel offers the following advice: “The exam is open book, but you don’t have a lot of time to flick through multiple textbooks. So, I think it’s really important to come up with your own set of notes that you can quickly access.”
For each topic, Raquel suggests having a summary page containing key formulas, worked examples and important rules that can be quickly referred to.
“It really helps to complete good notes throughout your studies. So, when doing the earlier units, like CFP2 or CFP3, if you’ve got good notes from these units, then you can tap into these same notes again to prepare for the CFPC exam.”
And her final piece of advice?
“Believe in yourself,” she says. “Through hard work and by having a positive attitude, you will be able to achieve anything you set your mind to. Always believe in yourself and trust your own judgement.”
Raquel Netto CFP®
Educational qualifications: BCom and BA (Monash University), DFS (Fin. Planning)
Years as a financial planner: 6 years (joined industry in 2004)
The Gwen Fletcher Memorial Award
The Gwen Fletcher Memorial Award was established in 2014 in memory of Gwen Fletcher AM, who was 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 Congressand $1,000, which is funded by the FPA.