Meet our very first financial counselling graduate

John Sheehan – ICAN Learn’s First Diploma of Financial Counselling graduate.

John Sheehan came to financial counselling after a long career with ANZ, where he had a range of experiences including accounting, project management, industry work, operational risk, and compliance. 

When my time was up with ANZ, I didn’t think I was done yet and I looked around for a new challenge.  I had heard about financial counselling whilst at ANZ and explored the role,” says John, now employed as a financial counsellor at Diversitat in Geelong. “It seemed a good fit with my objectives – a new challenge in working with people one on one, and an area that I believed I could be successful in.” 

John was clear that the first step was to undertake the Diploma, allowing him to return to study.

John undertook the Diploma of Financial Counselling as part of a small group in Melbourne, Victoria, commencing in 2017 and completing his qualification earlier this year.  John told us a bit about his experiences as a financial counselling student and how this changed his outlook about issues for clients and ways of providing support for people in financial difficulty. 

“After working for many years in the finance sector you have confidence in your broad financial knowledge.   However, it didn’t take long for me to realise that I had a lot to learn when it came to supporting people in financial difficulty.  I found this quite motivating as it is always great to learn and expand one’s knowledge and skills.” 

John added that “The most significant benefit of undertaking an industry-based course was working with teachers who had worked in the sector for a long time.  You were always confident that you were getting advice and guidance based on direct and current experience.  We also had a small group making things more relaxed; people were able to share their experiences and knowledge.” 

We asked John to tell us how undertaking the course has facilitated his understanding of the financial counselling sector and industry links for his work. 

“The teachers always encouraged us to participate in the sector as much as possible”, John said. “This included attending Professional Development training, workshops and conferences which immediately opened our eyes to the sector, the people within it including the opportunity to build contacts and, of course, learn.” 

John described the best and most difficult things about his experience of becoming a financial counsellor as “the feeling of making a difference to someone’s life” and reflected that “back in the corporate world, you could try to make a contribution, but it was really hard to work out if you actually made a difference!”  

John noted that financial counselling does have its difficult times. “Hearing people’s stories and situations is not easy, and you really do need to focus on what you can do to assist.”

One thing John says about the sector is that “It’s great to meet and work with people who have such a wonderful passion for their job and are so motivated to do what they can to assist their clients.” 

We congratulate John on being the first student enrolled with ICAN Learn in the Diploma of Financial counselling to complete his full qualification starting from scratch! 

Congratulations John!