A line in the sand - Looking back at 2015

Despite a hard-fought year for IFAs, the sector continues to prosper. The ifa team look at the major events that have impacted the community over the past 12 months.

 While adviser bad behaviour dominated headlines last year, 2015 has been something of a turning point for the advice industry. Rather than attracting a focus on the rogue bad apples, advisers – aligned and non-aligned; risk and investment; salaried and self-employed – are looking towards the future to find ways of pushing the profession forward and keeping it relevant.

This year has been marked by a surge in mergers and acquisitions, which demonstrates an ever-increasing thirst for collaboration – something that is sorely needed if the non-aligned space wants to continue to challenge the big end of town's vertically integrated model.

Implemented Portfolios' Santi Burridge perhaps said it best in a recent blog for ifa: "During my career, I have been guilty of poorly collaborating and I have met so many business owners who believe their way is the only way. This attitude has cost this industry dearly and ensured the conflicted model received oxygen in the face of a toxic culture," he wrote.

"This lack of leadership is creating the greatest opportunity for true non-aligned advice (why we can't call it 'independent' is beyond me) to dominate in Australia, and it is happening. I am meeting more and larger scale businesses that are working this out now and are putting collaboration at the core of their business – and they will grow much faster than anything we have ever witnessed in Australia before."

So, this year we have seen industry funds join forces with advisers – something no-one imagined would ever happen; CPA Australia set up its own advice business; and a number of non-aligned businesses team up to create large planning outfits.

Advisers have also taken to technology with gusto, pushing away the fear that robots will replace humans in the advice space. Instead, forward-thinking advisers are looking at ways that technology can allow them to provide a better service for their clients.

But it wasn't all roses – that's for sure. The Life Insurance Framework has been a major talking point, and although we now have some clarity, fears for the life insurance sector remain and uncertainty about the educational requirements that advisers will need to meet still reigns.

However, what doesn't kill you certainly makes you stronger and as the industry plants its flag firmly in the ground, announcing to the world that it is not going anywhere, the opportunity for new business models and new ways of working will ensure this vibrant industry remains strong.

There is no doubt that the aligned model is here to stay, but let's work together to embed it even further via creativity, enthusiasm and collaboration. So, as 2015 draws to a close, here is the ifa team's wrap-up of a year of transformation.

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