NGS Super CEO Anthony Rodwell-Ball has called on his industry super fund colleagues to end traditional hostilities and partner with the non-aligned financial advice sector to better compete with the institutions.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Implemented Portfolios (IP) Study Tour 2015 in New York last week, the longstanding industry fund boss said spending a week learning and travelling alongside non-aligned financial advice professionals has altered his perception of the small business retail sector.
"You could well ask me, 'what is an industry fund doing rubbing shoulders with all these IFAs?'
"Well, what has become clear to me is that we share the same goals. Why is the industry fund sector suspicious of the retail and vice versa?
"We need to embrace each other and find ways that we can partner together to provide a better standard of advice."
Mr Rodwell-Ball indicated some of the suspicion on the part of industry funds may stem from the for-profit nature of the retail financial advice sector, but said he now realised that this business model does not preclude the two segments of the financial services industry from having a "shared vision" for the "glorious retirement" of their clients and members.
"If we don't find ways to partner, we will forever be a fragmented industry and fragmented industries are immature," he said.
The non-aligned advice sector and industry funds are united in being "challenged" by the major bank-owned wealth managers, Mr Rodwell-Ball added, saying he is not sure how the "major players" fit into this collaboration and whether they share the goal of client-centric advice provision.
"We are all really challenged by the big institutions – you are and we are, but we should use it as an opportunity to improve, not be intimidated," he told the non-aligned advice practitioners also participating in the IP Study Tour 2015.
However, the fund executive also said social and cultural obstacles to greater collaboration between the two sectors remain.
"The question for us is where to meet these partners. I have long thought there is scope for more collaboration with the independent non-bank sector, but where does an industry fund come across these operators?
"The industry is so fragmented and the relationships don't exist. We move in different circles."
The comments come several months after former Local Super boss Nick Szuster told AIOFP conference delegates that industry funds are increasingly looking for partners in the advice space and have a natural bias towards non-aligned businesses.
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