Does CPD stand for Crap Personal Development?

In 2005 I sat down in a consultative group, along with the head of our RTO, Kerry Hides-Pearson of Terra Cordis and set down skills, experience and evidentiary standards for professionals “providing advice on SMSFs”.  This was once known as RG146 but will soon be taken up into the higher professional standards required of all financial services professionals advising in SMSFs – the FASEA standard.

You may not have seen them.  They are extensive and to put it mildly, very heavy.   As they should be, as a professional advising on SMSFs provides a shield of excellence to the largely uninformed Trustee of an SMSF.  Sure, there are calls for SMSF Trustees to have a modicum of education but I can’t see that happening in my lifetime.  So it is up to the adviser!

And the law shows that as well.   Look at the recent two cases where SMSF auditors were held liable for losses occasioned by the Trustee investing in high-risk investments.  And expect a lot more adviser pressure following the Hayne Royal Commission.

Apart from the relevant five standards set down for providing advice in an SMSF, there is an ongoing need for continuing professional development (“CPD”) and it is proposed that this will rise to 70 hours as opposed to the relevant Associations, 30 CPD point requirements (many of which can be achieved with 10 to 15 hours of attendance at an Association event).

Now for me, CPD is about personal and professional development.  I remember when I was on the State Council for the Taxation Institute of Australia we had a number of CPD events per year including Intensives.  These were great events where speakers were consistently challenged on their views, having to back them up with evidence of cases and legislation.  It was real in-depth learning.

So, with the backdrop of the high standards required of SMSF Advisers, the underpinning of negligence actions and the new Australian Financial Complaints Authority, the proposed 70 action hours of CPD (which includes up to 7 hours of reading), if you are attending a CPD event and the standard is not high enough then, to me at least, that is crap personal development.  A waste of time.

Now I know a number of professionals just turn up to get CPD and don’t care about the level or standards.  But at the end of the day, it is these advisers that end up creating a bad name for SMSF professionals and headline the negligence actions, from the Royal Commissions and in reality, not reaching their full potential as an adviser and custodian of their clients’ funds.

At I Love SMSF, I work so hard to ensure every hour of our 2 – 5 hours of CPD per month is set at an AQF level of 8 or more, the standard of a post-graduate diploma.  Being an accredited certificate IV trainer, I am required to meet these standards.  No crap personal development for me.  If I am not learning, then my students are not learning.  It is a 360 degrees system.  Simple and plain.

Please don’t short change yourselves.