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Shorten claims credit for planner professionalism

Former financial services minister Bill Shorten has listed raising professional standards in the financial planning industry as among his ministerial achievements as he leaves the post to take up the education portfolio in Kevin Rudd’s new cabinet.

In his final media statement as financial services minister, Mr Shorten singled out FOFA, describing the regulatory package as one of a “number of historic Labor reforms” he led during his tenure.

“It was a privilege to serve as minister for financial services and superannuation in the Gillard Labor Government,” he said.

“We have built upon on the great legacy of [prime ministers] Hawke and Keating, which improve the transparency and fairness of our financial services sector.

“We’ve bought the financial planning industry into the 21st century by removing conflicted remuneration structures and challenging the industry to become more professional, a challenge which I think the industry has and will continue to rise to.”

Mr Shorten also thanked the industry for “working co-operatively and diligently” with him during the reform consultation and implementation process.

Shadow minister for financial services Mathias Cormann issued a very different statement, describing his former counterpart as the “part-time” financial services minister.

“During his time as financial services and superannuation minister Bill Shorten made Australia into the world champion of financial services red tape.

“As well as imposing massive additional red tape on the financial services sector, he did everything he could to protect the vested commercial interests of the union movement at the expense of the broader public interest.

“Bill Shorten's so-called Future of Financial Advice changes and other changes to super have increased compliance costs for financial services and superannuation by a staggering $1.5 billion - this massive increase in compliance burden has pushed up the cost and reduced the availability and accessibility of financial advice for consumers.”

Senator Cormann also said the splitting of the financial services portfolio, without a single minister dedicated to the policy area sitting in Cabinet, indicates a “downgrading” of the portfolio’s importance under Rudd’s leadership.

Association of Financial Advisers chief operating officer Phil Anderson told ifa that while the incoming treasurer Chris Bowen is well briefed on the industry - having served as financial services minister during the Ripoll inquiry in the first Rudd government - that the AFA's preference would be for a single, dedicated minister for the policy area to sit in cabinet.

“[Treasurer] is such a big job, it’s probably the case that it will not be possible for [financial services] to be given the focus it needs," he said.