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‘Flawed advice’ a threat to super confidence

While Australians should be proud of their world-leading superannuation system, poor quality financial advice is leading to systemic insecurity, says former High Court judge Sir Anthony Mason.

Sir Anthony, who is patron of the SMSF Association (SMSFA), told delegates to the industry body’s conference in Melbourne yesterday that SMSFs have been a “centrepiece of the Australian superannuation success story”, but that some sections of the advice community are holding back public confidence.

“Our experience in recent years has shown that one of the greatest threats to the existence of public confidence in the superannuation industry arises from the provision of poor, and in some instances, flawed financial advice on the part of financial advisers, including advisers employed by major Australian financial institutions,” the SMSFA patron said.

Expressing concern that the best interest duty for advisers had become “mired in controversy”, Sir Anthony said that an effective fiduciary duty was an important element of raising adviser standards, along with increased education levels.

“If this comes about, as it should, we could accurately describe financial advisers as members of a profession and not as product salesmen.”

The former judge endorsed SMSFA’s ambition to create a “class of SMSF professionals whose relevant capabilities will extend well beyond that of accountants and financial planners”.