Financial planners love people and figures

Jobs for the future

By Kate Southam

What job combines a love of dealing with people, a competitive drive, self discipline and a love of finance? Answer: Financial planner.

That is how AMP Horizons director Tim Steele describes the attributes needed to succeed in a role IBIS World claims is on the “in hot demand” list looking at the five years to 2016.

Since the AMP Horizons program started in 2007 it has educated 14 intakes of 30-32 people. The 45-week program includes 10 weeks at the AMP Horizons Academy in Sydney but applicants come from all over Australia.

Successful applicants must have a Diploma of Financial Services (Financial Planning) and the right attributes including empathic skills, professionalism and “really strong communication skills”.

“Not necessarily good talkers. [We need] people are who are interested rather than interesting,” Mr Steele told “It takes a leap of courage [for clients] to agree to meet with a financial planner because they are dealing with issues people would rather avoid like [their] own mortality.”

Financial planners also need to be financially literate so they can simplify often complex financial matters for their clients. Possessing a commercial world view and entrepreneurial mindset are also pluses.

“We are very bullish about the opportunity at a macro level for financial planning and financial services and we know we need significantly …more financial planners today,” says Mr Steele.
He says AMP wants to set the standard for financial planners so while the organisation needs more recruits it would rather have fewer numbers in an intake than the wrong people.

AMP Horizon graduates include former elite sports people and career switchers from a wide range of sectors.

Amy Pursehouse was once a Virgin Blue cabin supervisor but says she has always loved the world of finance so she took steps to position herself for success when the right opportunity came along.

She spent three years combing flying with studying to obtain a Bachelor of Commerce degree with a major in Financial Planning from Griffith University before joining the Commonwealth Bank as a graduate bank manager.

“At the time I was flying I was looking for something to promote my strengths but that would also be something I would enjoy,” Ms Pursehouse told CareerOne.

Ms Pursehouse enjoyed the client interaction of life at the bank but she wanted a role that used deeper mathematics and finance skills and heard about AMP Horizons through a mentor.

A lot of home work followed. Ms Pursehouse studied up on the skills required to be a top financial planner and she spoke to contacts, a career advisor and friends.

“I got the opportunity to work with some really good financial planners in the role including a senior planner who was a great mentor,” says Ms Pursehouse.

Ms Pursehouse started at the academy on August 16 2010 and graduated in September 2011.

“Intense is definitely I would use [to describe the AMP Horizons training]. It is quite a unique experience because you get to know your strengths and weakness in terms of financial planning but also in getting to know yourself.”

“You receive a thorough understanding of financial planning and where you see yourself in the future.”

After graduation, Ms Pursehouse joined one of AMP’s largest practices, Eluvia, based in Brisbane.

“I couldn’t have picked a more perfect opportunity than working at Eluvia as I have access to three directors and a vast array of knowledge in a growing company with the opportunity to learn.”

“Financial Planning gives people direction and hope when individuals create goals and aspirations for their lives (that might have] seemed unobtainable.
“Most people know what they want but are just not clear on how they will get there. That is where I can help. I take the stress away from the client and help them to see a clear path forward.”
AMP Horizons takes three intakes a year. The current intake will be based at the academy from October 2011 to January 23.
Fast Facts AMP Horizons Program

Attributes needed: Empathy and ability to build trust, strong communication skills, a degree of business acumen, high degree of motivation, self discipline, entrepreneurial mindset.

Pre-requisite qualifications:

The minimum educational/training requirement to become a financial planner is outlined in the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) Policy Statement 146.

A Diploma of Financial Services (Financial Planning) is RG146 compliant.

Career Change Graduates:  Approximately half of the successful AMP Horizon candidates are drawn from the financial services sector with the other half coming from a range of sectors including Education, Defence and small business.

Demographics of AMP Horizon financial planning graduates

Age: Under 25 (13 per cent); 26-35 (45 per cent); 36-45 (27 per cent); 46+ (16 per cent)
Geography: NSW (52 per cent); QLD (12 per cent); VIC (24 per cent); SA (7 per cent); WA (6 per cent)
Gender: Male (73 per cent); Female (27 per cent)

Mr Steele says AMP is actively trying to attract more women to the sector.

For information go to or to apply email

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