Financial Planning

Three tips for aspiring CFP® professionals

21 January 2020

Jayson Forrest

Jayson Forrest is the managing editor of Money & Life Magazine.

As a strong advocate of the profession, Andrew Dunbar CFP® is spreading the message of good advice, as the 2019 FPA CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® Professional of the Year Award recipient.

Andrew Dunbar CFP® confesses to being a little uncomfortable taking out the 2019 FPA CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® Professional of the Year Award. Not that he is not honoured to receive the top gong, but instead, would have preferred for the recognition to have gone to the team at Apt Wealth Partners.

“It’s a huge result for the entire Apt Wealth team and recognises our organisation’s work in delivering for our clients. The effort they put in with the business and our clients everyday, is amazing. It’s a real team effort. So, winning the 2019 FPA CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® Professional of the Year Award is something I’ll be dedicating to the whole team,” Andrew says.

“At Apt Wealth Partners, our values centre around putting the client first, they are at the heart of everything we do. Our team live these values and commit to things like getting back to every client the same day. Delivering on these standards does create pressure for the team at times, but it’s also a huge amount of satisfaction knowing that the clients are okay,” Andrew says.

“And while this approach to delivering advice is recognised internally within the business, the team also deserves external validation, which winning this award provides.”

And what does the award mean to clients?

“We receive a large number of our new clients from existing client referrals. I think this award provides external validation for them that they have referred their friends and family to a firm that has received external independent recognition for its efforts in delivering client best interests,” he says.

Volatility and change

The 37-year-old is active in the local community, where he dedicates a sizeable amount of his time and skills to charitable and pro bono work. He is also a strong advocate for the profession, and he hopes that by winning this prestigious award, it will allow him to reach a wider audience when it comes to spreading the “good word” on advice.

In presenting Andrew with this coveted award, FPA CEO Dante De Gori CFP® praised Andrew for his commitment to the profession and for the wellbeing of his clients.

“Andrew is passionate about helping clients who are going through challenging times and are at their most vulnerable, such as when they have complex family needs. He is an active participant in the FPA’s Cancer Council Pro Bono Advice Program and a range of other charities,” De Gori said.

“Andrew also contributes regularly to thought leadership programs by writing financial education guides, presenting at educational events, and mentoring less experienced financial planners in his firm. He is a strong advocate for the value of financial planning, and is a wonderful ambassador in leading our profession through change.”

As a director and senior financial planner at Apt Wealth Partners, Andrew is under no illusion that the profession faces many challenges ahead. From changes to education standards, to the Hayne Royal Commission’s recommendations, to changes to long-held business models, he concedes that 2019 has been a volatile year for financial planners.

But he firmly believes these changes and the move to becoming a recognised profession, is also creating opportunities for those practitioners who are willing to see it through.

“Undeniably, it’s been a massive and volatile 12 months for financial planners. But we have to embrace change as we move towards becoming a true profession.”

Not surprisingly, Andrew identifies talent acquisition and technology as two standout challenges facing the profession over the coming years. But despite all the talk about technology, he believes the human element of advice will remain the centre of the planner/client relationship, and will become increasingly important.

“You only have to look at factors like low wage growth, high house prices, the likelihood of lower investment returns over the foreseeable future, and longer life expectancies, and it’s not difficult to see that it’s getting tougher financially for most Australians. So, the need for advice is only going to increase. And for those firms that embrace our journey to a profession, they will thrive in the years ahead.”

Life planning

Andrew believes the way in which the profession responds to these challenges will help shape financial planning over the next 5-10 years. And the key, he says, is the role of the planner.

He believes as the advice relationship continues to evolve to a much deeper emotional relationship with the client, one of the key opportunities for planners is transitioning from the traditional role of a financial planner to becoming life planners.

“As planners, our value-add is to truly help people live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives. It’s no longer just about the technical, financial side of advice. But this transition will be challenging for the profession. You only have to look at training programs, which have been centred around technical skills and knowledge, rather than emotional skills,” Andrew says.

“However, the new role of a planner will be to manage our clients’ fears, desires and emotions, in order to help shape their decisions around money. To do this, planners need to tap into their clients’ psyche and understand how their brain works to help them rationalise and make decisions.”

He believes at the core of this will be the transition by planners from being purely focused on financial planning, to becoming more of a holistic life planner.

“It’s all about better understanding our clients, their emotions and behaviour towards money. We’ve got to understand more about how our clients rationalise their decisions, and help them achieve their financial wellbeing, so they can live the best life possible.”

Spreading the message

Andrew remains a strong advocate for the profession, working within his community to spread the message of good advice. It’s a message he also shares with students contemplating a career in financial planning.

“Honestly, I think it’s a fantastic career choice for young people to be aspiring to. The work we do to genuinely help clients live better lives and the satisfaction that comes from seeing those outcomes, gives you a purpose beyond your pay cheque.”

He offers the following three tips for aspiring CFP® professionals:

  1. Study hard and early. “After achieving the pinnacle CFP® designation, you need to diversify your skills and knowledge, and do it while you’re young. Learn life skills, brain science, life coaching, accounting, and other areas that will not only help you in financial planning but also in life.”
  2. Be passionate about helping people. “Financial planning is not a 9-5 job, and as the custodian of people’s finances, you need to be willing to be available when your clients are in need. By doing so, you will be able to take a great deal of satisfaction and purpose out of seeing clients at ease and enjoying life.”
  3. Surround yourself with the right people. “Get a mentor and spend time with others who are passionate about what you”

“And remember, pursue something you love and genuinely want to do. I knew I loved helping people enjoy their life more, so I continue to pursue that. And that’s something I wouldn’t change for the world.”



Name: Andrew Dunbar

Age: 37

Educational qualifications: BCom, BEc, CFP®, ADFP

Position: Director and Senior Financial Planner

Practice: Apt Wealth Partners

Licensee: Apt Wealth Partners

Years as a financial planner: 15 years

CFP designation: December 2014




FPA CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® Professional of the Year Award runner-up:

* Kearsten James CFP®Cooper Wealth Management (Qld)