BT has announced it has been making changes to its wealth business, which include a new advice model that offers general and “single-topic” advice, despite Westpac’s current legal battle with ASIC over what general advice means.
Yesterday, Westpac-owned BT Financial Group said it has been working to improve the efficiency of their wealth business to drive greater revenue growth, better products and experiences for customers.
BT chief executive Brad Cooper said part of the changes to the wealth business include “a new flexible advice model that offers everything from general and single-topic advice to full personal advice delivered when and where the customer wants”.
The comments come despite ASIC announcing late last year it had commenced proceedings against Westpac subsidiaries for allegedly providing improper personal financial product advice to customers.
BT later said it would “vigorously” fight the regulator in the Federal Court, declaring that it was general advice that the customers received and that the regulator has the wrong interpretation of what constitutes general and personal advice.
Among other changes to the wealth business, BT said it will be reducing its number of investment products from more than 50 down to three and will also move from four trustees to just one trustee. Instead of 12 superannuation funds there will now be one, BT said.
BT is also looking at providing a functionality for advisers to complete SOAs digitally and in a more automated way.
Mr Cooper also pointed to a focus on BT’s life insurance business.
“Life is an integral part of our product set ... we have a disciplined approach to how our products are distributed, with most sold through an adviser, as we believe that life insurance is a complex product that needs either personal or general advice to support it,” he said.
Mr Cooper said having a strong wealth and insurance operation is imperative to delivering customer’s financial needs throughout their life.
“BT has invested to transform its operations to help more Australians plan for their best financial futures,” he said.
Earlier this month, Westpac chief executive Brian Hartzer said the outcome of the ASIC federal case will determine the future of advice.
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