Michael Ward

Director, Personal Financial Planner at Maxim Private Wealth
Michael Ward studied a Master of Financial Planning at Kaplan Professional and is now a Director at Maxim Private Wealth

About you

What have been the most important stages of your life?

When I took on my Master of Financial Planning, I was starting a new job in a new practice, was recently married and had a baby on the way. I’d been in financial planning for around eight years and had never gone to university before, so it had been years since I’d undertaken any formal study of any kind. There were a few things that were important to me. I was looking for an education provider that could be flexible with my timeframes and approach to study. I wanted to avoid set lecture timetables as I didn’t want to impact my usual working week. I also wanted the flexibility to study at my own pace. While I wasn’t sure to begin with, I felt my study style would be ‘chunky’ rather than consistent, so set lectures and a normal structured learning environment was unlikely to suit my needs. I enquired with the local universities and it became obvious the demand on my time was not going to work with the study plans I had in mind. Kaplan Professional gave me the ability to be completely flexible with my study routine. I could study in the evening while my wife was watching reality TV, on the train to and from work, while listening to my favourite music, or on the weekends when it suited me (usually with either the cricket or footy on in the background). It definitely gave me the flexibility I was looking for.

About your course

What made you decide to progress with further study? How did you choose your particular further study course (compared to others)? Were you weighing up any alternative degrees or career pathways before choosing this qualification?

I wanted to further my knowledge and learn more about my profession than what I had already developed throughout my career. Kaplan Professional’s Master of Financial Planning gave me a great depth of knowledge and increased my skills to a highly professional level. I feel far more empowered having completed it, and have been able to use it to better help me develop strategies and meet my clients’ needs. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised to look back and reflect on how much clients appear to appreciate it; we seem to be able to build trust faster and have stronger relationships as a result. Clients look at me and treat me differently now that I have it.

Having been a financial adviser for a number of years, without a degree qualification and then completing the Master of Financial Planning, I feel more professional and respected within my industry. It has helped me build networks with peer professions such as accountants and lawyers, who’ve both been required to complete far more study than what the entry level minimum was for financial planning.

I had the drive and Kaplan Professional gave me the tools to accelerate my career. Now that the increased education requirements are being released, I’m very glad that took the time to study with them.

Pros and cons

What do you love the most about your course?

Studying the Master of Financial Planning with Kaplan Professional gave me the ability to achieve a Graduate Certificate and then the Graduate Diploma as I went. It made me feel like I wasn’t trying to take on a huge task. Each four to six months I was achieving a new formal qualification and this gave me the drive to take on each new unit. From a time commitment point of view, I was able to achieve the qualification level I wanted to in only 12 units, which was significantly less than what I’d have to do if I studied an undergraduate degree. Another key factor for me was cost. I’m in Financial Planning, of course costs are going to be a relevant consideration. Kaplan Professional was able to provide the qualification I was looking for, and it was far less expensive than the undergraduate degrees or postgraduate degrees at the local universities I’d enquired with.