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Advisers hit back at public image survey

A number of ifa readers have reacted strongly to a Roy Morgan survey indicating public perception of financial planners is in decline, with some blaming the role of industry funds in generating a negative image.

The survey, released by pollster Roy Morgan last week, indicated that 25 per cent of respondents rated financial planners “very highly” for “honesty and ethical standards”, down from 26 per cent in 2012 and 28 per cent in 2011. A sample of 600 Australians aged 14 and over was surveyed, including a mixture of advice clients and those without professional advice.

Responding to the story, Henderson Maxwell chief executive Sam Henderson tweeted his surprise at the results, questioning the survey sample size.

“It was interesting to see planners dropped 3 per cent last year despite better investment returns,” he said. “Small survey sample may be an issue.”

Others took to the comments section of ifa, with one commenter saying the findings are reflective of the damage done by campaigns against the financial planning profession from industry funds and industry fund associations.

“The Industry Super Funds have spent millions of dollars attacking the integrity of financial planners in a desperate attempt to steal our clients,” said one comment.

“The heavy handed legislation, and the media reporting around it, has also been a big negative over the last year, and it will get worse with FOFA approaching.

“Fortunately, surveys of actual financial planning clients have consistently shown a very high level of trust.”

Another commenter noted the findings were not in line with their company’s internal feedback and measures of client satisfaction. “We are all doing our own client surveys and our clients love us, love the advice, care and effort we show in making their lives better,” their comment read.

However, Jason Bragger, principal of Brisbane Paragem-aligned practice Dolfinwise, took to the comments section to suggest the findings reflect some harsh truths for the industry.

“While advisers still take funds managers' grubby money to switch to their license and consequently sell their soul in the process, the 25 per cent figure has little hope of improving,” he said.

“Advice is more conflicted than ever, with [fewer] independents than ever.”