CBA scandal triggers licensing panic

Consultants specialising in AFSL applications have seen an increase in activity in the wake of news coverage and parliamentary debate over the CBA advice scandal.

Speaking to ifa, consultant Kate Humphries – who recently departed the Netwealth Advice Group where she had headed the Pathway Licensee Services business – said she has seen increased phone and email activity in recent weeks from institutionally-aligned authorised reps seeking more information about self-licensing.

“While this has been a trend for some time, the frequency of queries has increased and a number of the advisers specifically mentioned the Commonwealth Bank affair,” Ms Humphries said.

Similarly, Frank Smith of Adviser Compliance Services – who also runs the AIOFP’s compliance service – said that in recent weeks he has spoken with three to four advisers per week who ask him whether it is possible to get their own licence, anticipating that this trend may increase.

Financial services lawyer Sophie Gerber of Sophie Grace Compliance has also seen an increase in clients interested in “moving out of institutional stockbroking and financial planning groups”, pointing to the FOFA reform debate as another instigator but adding that there is still some uncertainty remaining.

“A lot of our clients are assessing their current business models but waiting for the outcome of whether general advice is included as ‘conflicted remuneration’ before moving forward,” Ms Gerber said. “It is making business planning quite difficult for them.”

However, Stewart Chandler of Western Australian consultancy AFSL Compliance said he has not seen an increase since the release of the Senate committee report into the CBA affair and performance of ASIC was tabled last month.

“No change for me,” he said. “I have had the same steady flow of enquiries and new applications for the last few years.”

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