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Incoming FPA chair ignites IFA hopes

The election of self-licensed adviser Neil Kendall has sparked speculation that the FPA may take firmer stands on product-centric advice" and vertical integration.

Yesterday the FPA announced that Tupicoffs managing director Neil Kendall will be taking on the role of chair from late November – just months after taking steps to make his practice compliant with the Corporations Act definition of an “independent” financial service provider.

“Being independent means we have no ownership links or affiliations with product manufacturers - we believe this is the future for financial planning in Australia,” Mr Kendall said at that time.

Mr Kendall is also an active member of the Boutique Financial Planners (BFP) lobby group – as are incoming board members Marisa Broome and Delma Newton – which has been a longstanding advocate of greater AFSL ownership transparency and a critic of vertical integration.

Reflecting on the appointment of Mr Kendall, veteran adviser Tony Bates of Sydney boutique Bluepoint Consulting said it bodes well for the association’s policy agenda.

“The appointment of IFA Neil Kendall as chair and other IFAs to the [FPA] board is at long last a huge leap in the right direction,” Mr Bates told ifa.

“Neil is one of us; he trod the same path as me and others from product-centric advice to client-centric advice.

“We should never again allow a board advocating advice to be dominated by people advocating product.”

Mr Bates – who has re-joined the FPA after letting his membership and CFP accreditation lapse more than a decade ago – hopes that the election will help other “disenfranchised IFAs” reconsider joining the association and fighting for a return to “Gwen Fletcher’s consumer-focused organisation”.

However, AIOFP executive director Peter Johnston said that while he welcomes “any independent person attaining a high position in the industry”, he did not endorse Mr Bates’ suggestion that IFAs re-embrace the FPA.

“We believe associations should be homologous – the AFA should stay in the risk space, SPAA in the SMSF market, AIOFP with independents and FPA with institutionally aligned/owned advisers,” Mr Johnston said.

Mr Johnston nonetheless said he wished Mr Kendall well in his new role, adding that the AIOFP will be “watching with interest” how “Mr Kendall’s position on vertically-integrated models resonates with the FPA membership and stakeholders”.

Meanwhile, a number of commenters on ifa have raised concerns that Mr Kendall’s involvement with Financial Rescue – a business that helps consumers recover investment losses – may make him unsuitable for the position.