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Independents to make comeback

Industry stakeholders have predicted the consolidation of the financial planning market will not last, making way for the return of independent and non-aligned advice firms.

Speaking at the 13th annual Wraps, Platforms & Masterfunds conference in the Hunter Valley on Friday, a panel consisting of Association of Financial Advisers board member Deborah Kent; senior IRESS BDM Michael Kinens; IOOF general manager, distribution, Renato Mota; and dealer group head Chris Appleyard of Custom Wealth Solutions was unanimous that the end is not nigh for non-aligned advisers.

“Whilst we have seen a contraction of the mid-size dealer groups and independent groups I think there will be a re-emergence of the independents – and I think it will largely be led through technology-based efficiencies,” said IOOF’s Mr Mota.

“To think the market, the entire market will be institutionalised into 5 or 6 pillars is probably naive. That’s not to say that’s a bad thing; there are certainly efficiencies in doing that. One of the really attractive qualities about our market here in Australia is the diversity. Whilst that might contract temporarily it will come back.”

Deborah Kent – whose firm, Integra Financial Services, is licensed through an institutional dealer – also predicted a “cyclical” change favouring independents.

“[With] FOFA being introduced, a lot of boutique, self-licensed practices are turning in their licenses and going to large dealer groups,” Ms Kent said.

“Is it good for the consumer? I would rather see a range, having boutiques licensees out there and the large ones ”.

However, Ms Kent also added that it is the mid-tier and boutique licensees that are predominantly struggling with additional regulatory burdens and that ASIC needs to ensure they are properly licensed and insured.

Michael Kinens, senior business development executive at IRESS – the company behind XPLAN – said that he is witnessing recent interest in advisers looking to move away from their institutional licensing arrangements.

“The number of advisers that are part of a larger network wanting to go out on their own has probably been stronger than it has been for a while,” Mr Kinens said.

“The number of conversations I’m having, this point in time where you’re struggling with all the things you’re struggling with, is it sensible to be thinking about going out and creating your own licence?

“But people are determined: the enquiries from existing clients that are wanting to break away from their dealer group... is interesting.”

Mr Appleyard, who heads a non-aligned licensee, said that while he is encouraged by the predictions, many challenges remain for independent AFSL holders.

“Yes, I see you want independence and want to do all of that, but unfortunately, sometimes these people that would love to go out and set up a value proposition that’s entirely independent of the banks to delineate themselves, can’t [do so] because they’re scared they won't have anyone to sell [their practice] to and they’re not going to make any money and won’t be able to achieve any value out of it.”

Will IFAs make a post-FOFA resurgence? Have your say in our straw poll: http://www.ifa.com.au/component/acepolls/poll/12-will-ifas-make-a-resurgence-post-fofa