What does it take to become a Graduate Consultant in Financial Services?

What does it take to become a Graduate Consultant in Financial Services?

Over 100,000 university students every year hit the job market and the race is on to secure a great job. There is a wide variety of graduate programs to choose from and here at IQ Group we continue to grow our graduate program to meet industry demand. We’re looking for the right candidates, and hopefully they’re looking for us too. For graduates wondering if they are the right fit for financial services, this blog is here to help.

How can you prepare yourself for a graduate program in Financial Services?

Practically every person in the modern world uses financial services, whether it be for daily banking, wealth management, or superannuation. With a major impact on people’s financial security, it is one of the most highly regulated industries in Australia. It also evolves constantly with new technology – digital currencies, data mining, mobile applications, and online customer engagement models are just the tip of the iceberg amongst current trends.

Thus, opportunities are diverse, and a graduate role is a springboard into a wide range of careers. Be prepared to pass both police and background checks. Read industry news sources and be aware of current legislative changes. Study various financial services products like superannuation, insurance, mortgages, and investments – you may even want to become RG146 accredited to better prepare yourself for this highly competitive environment.

What characteristics do I need to succeed as a graduate consultant in Financial Services?

Consulting is ultimately about achieving great customer outcomes whilst balancing the revenue needs of the organisation you work for. A consultant must learn to understand their clients’ needs and environment quickly, demonstrate expertise to earn credibility, build relationships to earn trust, and deliver consistent results. To achieve this at the graduate level, a prospective consultant must be extremely adaptable, present well, have excellent communication skills, and take the responsibility to represent themselves and their consultancy seriously. This takes self-motivated individuals with high degrees of independence and a proactive attitude. And don’t forget to be keen to learn – it’s all about learning, initially.

The career path in consultancy moves through phases broadly progressing from graduate to associate consultant, then consultant, then senior consultant, and potentially to principle consultant. This relies heavily on a consultant’s ability to create and add value, network, and eventually generate business directly by providing clients superior services.

 What do graduates in consulting companies do?

The emphasis of the program is learning, of course, but graduates pass through three stages over a one-year period. The graduate program includes a mix of online and face-to-face training, including on boarding and ongoing accreditation requirements. When ready, a graduate consultant will be placed on client site with a senior consultant where they have a mentor-style relationship. Throughout the year, they’ll receive support in honing their skills, and perhaps choosing if they wish to specialise in the type of work they do.

Take the advice from Simran Kaur, a successful IQ Group graduate:

  • “Be open to everything, experience the various roles and see what suits you best at the end of it.Everyone is here to help guide and mould you to succeed.”
  • “Attitude is important – be positive and can-do. Go out there and try your hand at everything you can.”
  • “Work on your communication and interpersonal skills constantly; if you’re a consultant, you’re going to need them.”

If you want to know how you or someone you know can become a member of the IQ Group graduate program drop us a line.


Elizabeth Blythe

Senior Consultant at IQ Group

Meeting the challenge of increasing interdependency in superannuation

Meeting the challenge of increasing interdependency in superannuation

It’s a truism that the Internet and advances in technology have connected things as never before, and that these connections have enormous real-world implications. For the most part, this increasing interconnectedness has resulted in better, quicker and more efficient customer services, and it’s difficult to imagine a world without it.

SuperStream is something that has increased the interconnectedness of the superannuation system – and funds, employers and above all members have been the beneficiaries of faster transactions, fewer roadblocks, streamlined administration, and greater consistency and transparency.

There has been significant investment in SuperStream by super funds, employers, payroll providers, software developers, administrators, gateways and clearing houses, and – courtesy of the levy on APRA super funds – by the Australian Taxation Office. This investment is starting to pay off, and the year-on-year benefits can be measured in the billions of dollars.

Increasing reliance on ATO services

The ATO has been the primary driver of the implementation of SuperStream, consulting with stakeholders, preparing the timetable, and developing a wide range of enabling services. A panoply of acronyms – FVS, EPF, SuperTICK, EmployerTICK and SuperMatch – identify these enabling services that variously allow member, super fund and employer details to be obtained, checked and validated. These services are increasingly vital to the efficient operation of the superannuation system, and are increasingly built into superannuation fund processes.

It is paramount that the connection to these services is ‘always on’, because without them now the superannuation transactional network either stops, slows down or is potentially compromised. Some super funds may have alternatives sometimes and to some extent but these alternatives will progressively cease to exist as fund systems further develop and integrate, and SuperStream continues its onward march.

ATO system outages impact superannuation transactions

This is what happened with the ATO online services system outages in December 2016 and February 2017 as a result in a failure in their storage hardware (and not the result of a security attack). The outage affected all ATO systems including superannuation enabling services. In the first outage, there was a substantial loss of capability for up to eleven days.No superannuation information was compromised and client records remained secure and intact. Nonetheless, the outages sheeted home the increasing dependencies of the superannuation on the ATO.

A PwC review and an internal ATO inquiry is looking into causes, impacts and consequences of the outages.It is clear that they need to potentially look at this from a whole-of-system perspective, and move toward a possible risk management framework that covers funds, intermediaries and regulators.

I don’t know what the reviews will find but it is very difficult to step back from an increasingly integrated system.The ATO has played and continues to play a critical role in the technological evolution of superannuation, and has been innovative and forward-thinking.

Meeting the challenges of an integrated system

ATO enabling services in particular have helped strengthen the spine of integrity of the system.They and other services still in development will help them to collaborate with the industry to address issues as disparate as unpaid super, lost super and the unnecessary duplication of accounts.It is important the Government recognise and fund the ATO to undertake these vital activities, while also guarding against the downside risk highlighted by the outages.

IQ Group has been a participant throughout the SuperStream journey from the very beginning until the present day, and we remain committed to our goal to continue to play a role in helping funds map the way forward, meet their SuperStream obligations, leverage these changes to deliver efficiencies – and solve problems.We are working closely with funds to mitigate disruption and deal with disruption outcomes, as well as continuing to work with the industry and the ATO on day-to-day industry matters.


David Haynes

Executive Superannuation Policy Advisor, VIC

Australians should understand their group insurance as well as they do their car insurance

Australians should understand their group insurance as well as they do their car insurance

Insurance in superannuation has been under the spotlight in recent years, due to a combination of sharply increasing claim rates, premiums and the issues associated with these trends. With Australia’s leading consumer advocacy group, CHOICE, identifying that trust in group insurance is a major concern, it is timely for the industry and the wider community to review the future of insurance within superannuation.

On February 27, representatives from funds, insurers, re-insurers and regulatory bodies gathered in Sydney to discuss the role group insurance plays within superannuation. Of primary interest for these groups is how to ensure members receive the best possible value from the insurance provided.

In strictly numerical terms, group insurance does provide benefits to members. Pay out rates on group insurance are over 80 cents for every dollar of premiums; higher than any other kind of life insurance; and rates of under-insurance in Australia are lower than in any other developed nation, with over 70% of that insurance coming from superannuation.

On the other hand, it was identified the industry needed to address certain areas. Cover that is provided is not always well-aligned to the members’ needs, and the information provided to members about their insurance is often highly technical and filled with jargon, making it difficult for them to know if what they have is suitable for them. Further, the terminology used often varied from fund to fund, making it difficult for members to compare offerings.

A major focus of the conference was on the steps that could be taken to ensure both that insurance in superannuation met members’ needs, and that members were engaged and understood both those needs and the cover they possessed. One of the strategies discussed included the establishment of a code of practice for group insurance, and the Insurance in Superannuation Working Group has already begun compiling a library of best practices documents for industry review. The first of these are expected to be distributed shortly.

The question of disclosure was also assessed, with broad recognition that insurance-related communication needs to be revised to become more streamlined and clear, with the ambition that “Australians should understand their group insurance as well as they do their car insurance”.

Beyond simple disclosure came the question of member engagement. This was seen as a key issue by a majority of attendees at the conference.It was acknowledged that the industry did not currently engage members in a proactive manner, tending to interact only when a claim was received. Wellness programs, informational seminars, and retraining and rehabilitation programs have been well-received when trialled with members, but are not yet widely practised and require a cultural change in the industry.

Most importantly, there was recognition from all attendees that concerted action needs to be taken to ensure that group insurance continues to provide Australian workers with the safety net they require in case they are unable to work to retirement. This is the responsibility of the industry, not government regulators, to ensure that that action is taken.


Adam Windsor

Senior Consultant, QLD

Maximising the customer experience

Maximising the customer experience

Maximising the Customer Experience

Recently we invited Peter Jamieson, Executive Director of Customer Experience, GM Holden to share his insights into the customer experience for the ASFA February briefings in Sydney and Melbourne. We spoke to him about his customer-focused experiences and his thoughts and advice for the super industry.

What is the customer experience and how do you move from the ordinary to the ideal?

The customer experience covers all areas of how your customers experience your products and services. For Holden, this includes the experience of buying a car, servicing your car and all those stages in between. You may not be in the market for a new car but just looking at what’s coming, or what options you may have for re-financing your vehicle.

Improving customer’s experience is not an end point, but a continuous journey. At Holden, we know that what meets a customer’s needs today, may not do so tomorrow. Benchmarks are always evolving and customers’ expectations are continually changing. The good news is that this provides new opportunities to engage with customers, in different ways.

Moving from the ordinary to the ideal starts with leadership, setting the tone, the strategy and the vision.Companies who successfully put customers at the centre start with aligned leadership vision and strategy.

What are the current trends in customer experience?

One thing that we are heavily influenced by is the notion that the customer experience is not just about improving something then moving on.It’s about a continual process of innovation and improvement. It is important for leaders to support a culture of innovation, learning and continual improvement.Customers have many needs, some of which they explicitly tell you, others you have to work to find out. Leading customer centric companies pay attention to the unspoken needs, asking questions that really get under the surface of why something is important to a customer, what does it mean to their life. For Holden, it’s no longer just about purchasing and maintaining a vehicle. Throughout your life, you will have different ownership needs and vehicle requirements.We aim to understand those changing needs better than anyone else and make sure we are changing and adapting to those needs. Whether it be different vehicle usage or ownership models, different ways to purchase and service vehicles, we want to stay in front of customer needs and be the market leader in anticipating what customers want next.

How sophisticated are Australian customers?

Australian customers are pragmatic – they don’t like to accept what is less than reasonable and are clear in what they want. They like to know that the core service they are paying for is being delivered and if that core service is being delivered consistently and at a high standard they are usually open to new things.

We have found if you listen and try to find the unique and individual needs for customers – knowing how they want to be treated and what they want next – you have a much stronger opportunity to introduce new options to them. Particularly if you are satisfying an un-stated need. At Holden, we have been looking after Australian customers for over 100 years, understanding the unique needs of Australian drivers.We plan to be doing that for the next 100 years, evolving and adapting to the changing needs of today’s and tomorrow’s Australia.

How should Australian super funds plan for better engagement and outcomes?

Any commitment to improving customer engagement must start with leaders having frequent and direct contact with their customers. I encourage the leadership teams in super funds to undertake a learning exercise about how their fund looks after its members. This can be done by trying to take up one of your own service on-line, taking calls from customers, or spending time in your retail environments, living your customer’s experience. It’s the only way to fully appreciate how easy or difficult you have made it for customers to manage their retirement investments. In particular, paying attention to how your fund acknowledges and recognises individual customers is key. So many organisations treat customers as numbers or transactions, rather than individuals, with individual needs.

The super industry is data rich and has the information needed to better acknowledge its customers. Things like how long a customer has been transacting and when next they will hear from a fund are the little things that can show you really care about me.But it starts with leadership teams becoming more involved and getting closer to the customer.

Peter Jamieson is the Executive Director of Customer Experience, GM Holden. He joined Holden early in 2016 after spending over 30 years with Telstra. Peter originally trained as an accountant but his real passions are customers and leadership. At Telstra, he led the transformation of Telstra contact centres from a sales to customer centric operation. He also led Telstra’s company-wide customer advocacy improvement program. At Holden Peter is responsible for improving how customers experience Holden through their lifetime of transport needs.