AMP rethinks limited licensing amid SMSF Advice exodus

Advisers leaving AMP’s SMSF Advice channel were pushed out as Australia’s largest financial advice network alters its policy on authorised representatives.

Yesterday, ifa reported that almost 30 advisers operating under AMP’s SMSF Advice licensee have jumped ship to non-aligned dealers, with the lion’s share going to Akambo Private Wealth.

ifa understands the movement follows AMP’s decision to tighten its classification of authorised representatives and re-focus on fully-fledged, client-facing financial advisers rather than accountants operating under limited licences.

A source close to the matter, speaking to ifa on condition of anonymity, said the about-turn regarding accountants looking for a limited licence following the removal of the AFSL exemption on 1 July 2016, follows a number of disputes between the company and its SMSF-specialist recruits.

“It is not surprising that many of these accountants that joined [AMP’s] limited licence are leaving,” the source said.

“[AMP] was trying to run it like one of [its] other financial planning dealer groups but it became very clear that they didn’t want to do anything differently from what they had always done.”

While AMP offers a number of licensing options regarding SMSF advice, these incoming accountants were being pressured to upgrade to full authorised representative status in order to be more productive pushers of in-house product, the source revealed.

“If the accountants wanted to continue to provide advice just around the [SMSF] structure itself, then there was less ability for these advisers to place clients into AMP investments and managed fund products,” the source explained.

In addition, AMP’s in-house compliance requirements were seen to be more stringent than those of other licensees competing for business among accountants seeking a limited licence.

“One of these advisers spent 12 hours writing a statement of advice (SOA) to AMP’s standards,” the source said.

Akambo director Chris Willaton told ifa his company’s strong existing relationships with the accounting profession are a primary factor in the dealer group’s growth among this demographic of adviser.

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