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Kendall changes tune on independence

FPA chair-elect Neil Kendall has distanced himself from previous statements on the superiority of independent financial advice, pledging to serve all members equally.

Speaking to ifa yesterday, Mr Kendall explained that his firm’s decision to become independent – and public comments in support of the move – will not preclude him from adopting the FPA’s stated position of “business model agnosticism”.

“The FPA is not about telling people how they should structure their business or who they should be licensed by,” Mr Kendall said.

“I have worked in all the models – a bank environment, a large licensee environment [and an independent environment] and in all of those models it is about a professional’s commitment to providing good advice to a client.

“It is about individual behaviour, not about distractions about licensing. Business models don’t matter; licensees don’t matter.”

Mr Kendall’s comments are in line with the FPA’s longstanding position on the vertical integration debate, but conflict somewhat with previous comments he has made indicating Corporations Act-compliant independence is a “better” option than being “independently-minded”.

The incoming chair’s adherence to FPA dogma may disappoint some in the IFA community, such as Bluepoint Consulting’s Tony Bates, who told ifa he has re-joined the FPA after a long hiatus on the assumption that the new board would be more supportive of structural independence.

The Independent Financial Advisers Association of Australia (IFAAA) also issued a statement yesterday describing Mr Kendall as a “strident leader on the importance of genuine independence” and welcoming his election.

However, fellow FPA member Tim Mackay of Quantum Financial – another outspoken critic of conflicted business models – has backed Mr Kendall’s promise to represent advisers across all licensing channels.

“Neil is an impressive and successful independent financial planner [but] he comes from an institutional background and well understands the issues all financial planners face,” Mr Mackay said.

“Neil’s a good listener and his approach is consultative and inclusive of all members within the FPA, regardless who they are aligned to.”