Topic learning outcomes
On completing this topic, students should be able to:
• explain the role of professional standards within the financial planning context
• distinguish occupational groups from professions
• apply the criteria of professionalism to financial planning to determine its status as a profession.
Ethics and Professionalism in Financial Advice | FPC002B_T2_v2 © Kaplan Higher Education
1 The concept of professionalism
The concept of professionalism is a familiar term for financial advisers. Regulatory measures to
encourage higher standards of behaviour and professionalism are not a new phenomenon.
Over the past few decades, a plethora of regulatory initiatives have been developed and
implemented to bolster professionalism and ethical behaviour in the financial services industry
in the pursuit of seeking professional status.
1.1 What is ‘professionalism’?
The term ‘professionalism’, like the term ‘ethics’, means many different things to different people.
The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘professionalism’ as the ‘competence or skill expected of a
professional’. According to Cathie Armour, Commissioner of the Australian Securities and
Investments Commission (ASIC), the hallmarks of professionalism are ‘competence and
conscientiousness’ which is caring about other people and acting ethically. Professionalism therefore
appears to be about behaviours and conduct.