Important: From 1 January 2019, the Corporations Amendment (Professional Standards of Financial Advisers) Act 2017 will require new financial advisers to complete a bachelor or higher degree, or equivalent qualification, as approved by the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority. The new framework is still being established, however CPA Australia will continue to monitor its development. For further information, refer to professional standards.

Study guide: First edition

Financial Planning Fundamentals introduces the fundamentals of financial planning, with an Australian context, including the principal professional and ethical obligations underpinning the profession, types of financial products and their applications, the process of financial planning, as well as how to balance the relationship with clients and various stakeholders.

The subject assists candidates in developing a comprehensive understanding of the important roles of a financial adviser, and provides them with sufficient knowledge to further their study in other financial planning subjects. This subject also exposes candidates to various ethical challenges and provides information to support them to develop effective courses of action to mitigate potential risks and maintain an ethical client and stakeholder relationship. In addition, this subject identifies essential research and communication skills that a financial adviser requires to conduct sound financial analysis, and communicate and justify their recommendations to clients.

Candidates are reminded that prior learning in Australian taxation is strongly recommended before enrolling.

Exam structure

The Financial Planning Fundamentals exam is comprised of a combination of multiple-choice and extended response questions.

The exams for Financial Planning Fundamentals and Superannuation Retirement Planning will be held on two fixed dates in computer-based format. Candidates must be available to attend an exam on the fixed dates and prepared to travel to an exam centre (PDF). Please ensure you read the related rules and regulations before you enrol in this subject.

General objectives

On completion of this subject, you should be able to:

  • explain the importance of financial advice within the economic or regulatory environment in which it operates
  • examine the different obligations when providing financial advice and associated penalties for relevant breaches
  • assess the relationship between legal obligations and the ethical code of conduct in financial planning
  • demonstrate an understanding of the purpose of a decision-making model in financial planning
  • identify breaches of obligations and propose a course of action to address the breach
  • design, justify and deliver strategic financial advice for clients. 

Subject content

The subject is divided into four modules. 

The ‘weighting’ column in the following table provides an indication of the emphasis placed on each module in the exam, while the ‘proportion of study time’ column is a guide for you to allocate your study time for each module.

Module Recommended proportion of study time (%) Weighting (%)
1. Professionalism and ethics in financial planning


2. Researching financial advice


3. Delivering compliant strategic financial advice 35 35
4. Balancing the relationship with clients and various stakeholders



For further information, see the subject outline (PDF).