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Financial Counsellor

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects Openings 5 years to November 2019: 5,001 to 10,000
Salary Range Median weekly earnings: $1051 to $1300 to Source: Australian Government Department of Employment 2015
Brief Finding it increasingly difficult to pay your bills and dreading the sight of debt collectors at your door? Financial counsellors can assist you to ease your financial dilemma.

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Unlike financial planners who assist people gain further financial security, financial counsellors (paralegals) advocate on behalf of consumers and debtors who require information about their financial options at a more grassroots level and consumer protection.

The type of self referred or referred clients who consult financial counsellors are generally experiencing financial difficulty and/or crisis and may need assistance to organise their finances. The clients may range from low-income earners to those from disadvantaged backgrounds, such as newly arrived migrants. Then there are those clients who have been confronted by a sudden change in their employment circumstances. Unemployment may have come about due to staffing cutbacks in the workplace, through illness or perhaps redundancy. The downside is that these clients are unable to sort out their financial situation alone. The good news is that financial counsellors are on hand to help them.

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Education Requirements

People with a community service/advocacy working background and to a lesser extent, financial, gain employment as financial counsellors.

TAFE SA offers a Diploma of Community Services (Financial Counselling).
· This qualification is NOT related to the work performed by financial planners or financial advisors whose role is to provide clients with strategies to address their investment options.
· This qualification does NOT refer to therapeutic counselling.

Flinders University offers the following courses: Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting/Finance). Flinders University also offers a Bachelor of Social Planning and a Bachelor of Social Work & Social Planning degrees.

The University of Adelaide offers a Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Finance degrees as well as a Bachelor of Social Sciences degree.

The University of South Australia offers a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Finance degrees together with the following courses: Bachelor of Social Work and the Bachelor of Social Science (Human Services).

Career Path

There is a high demand for financial counselling services. This, according to those in the industry is due to 'a never-ending supply of people experiencing financial difficulty'. The provision of this service is largely dependent on funding and there tends also to only be a small turnover in positions each year, which both limit employment opportunities. Financial counsellors are generally employed by organisations such as Anglicare, The Salvation Army, city councils and community legal centres.


Finance and Insurance

Nature of the Job

Firstly, financial counsellors assess a client's overall financial situation and inform the client of the options that may help them overcome their specific problem. If necessary, financial counsellors negotiate or advocate on a client's behalf. The client is provided with information about the various options and advised of their implications. At this stage, financial counsellors also construct budgets for clients so that clients can more readily see where their money is going. Some of the more common options available to clients to help them pay off their debts include: - Renegotiated creditor repayments.- Debt consolidation.- The arrangement of early release of superannuation due to financial hardship.- Declaring bankruptcy (last resort).

Typical Physical Working Environment

This occupation is stressful just because of the sheer amount of work involved. Financial counsellors prefer to be proactive rather than reactive to consumer problems. A high level of communication and interpersonal skills is essential in this occupation as is the need to be culturally sensitive and sensitive to people's circumstances. Strategic thinkers can also more readily contribute to new ideas that may help address consumer debt issues. Excellent time management and record keeping skills as well as a good understanding of statistics will also help you keep abreast of your workload. Finally, an understanding of various legislation such as the Residential Tenancy Act is also needed to help protect the rights of consumers.

Typical Occupational Example

Difficulty in meeting one's financial obligations is often symptomatic of another problem. Clients may be having relationship problems, for example. Because of this it is important for financial counsellors to know of resources, other than financial, to refer these people to. This is another option that may be put forward by counsellors. Whichever option is decided upon, however, depends on the advantages and disadvantages such as the interest rate charged by creditors for extended payments. But in the end, Informing and empowering clients to make their own decisions and manage their financial situation is the objective of financial counselling.

Financial counsellors also undertake the distribution and dissemination of information to other groups in the community such as school students, Mothers' groups and Migrant groups, and at prisons. Their other key task is documenting consumer caseloads and the debt issues that arise from them.

Earning Potential

The starting salary in this occupation is approximately $32,700 and this may go as high as $40,200.

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online