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Boutiques welcome ownership disclosure debate

The Boutique Financial Planning Principals Group (BFP) has welcomed the assistant treasurer’s comments on financial advice ownership disclosure, but challenged the government to go further.

BFP president Wayne Roggero, who is also director of Brisbane-based boutique HMW Strategic Solutions, told ifa his organisation “fully supports” comments made by Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos, having been vocal on the issue of financial advice parent company disclosure for some time.

“This issue needs to be addressed. [We need] disclosure about not just who the licensee is, but who the ultimate owner is,” Mr Roggero said. “It is already planted on page 25 of a financial services guide or in [a statement of advice], but needs to be more obvious.”

The BFP would welcome a return to pre-Financial Services Reform-era standards of disclosing parent company information in a prominent place on all marketing materials, Mr Roggero said.

However, he also said Australia needs to have a debate about whether we should consider looking to the UK market, where the Retail Distribution Review brought about a formal regulatory distinction between ‘independent’ and ‘restricted’ advisers, depending on the licence owners.

“We should consider broadening the current definition of 'independent' and looking at governance structures to ensure the public is fully educated,” Mr Roggero said.

The Roy Morgan Research findings from August this year – which revealed a significant number of financial planning clients were confused about the institutional ownership of financial planning companies – proved that there is a concerning consumer knowledge gap on this issue, Mr Roggero said.