The royal commission has not diminished Westpac’s appetite to be in the financial advice business despite the high profile wealth management exits of ANZ and NAB.
Speaking at an analyst briefing on Monday, Westpac chief executive Brian Hartzer said the bank remains committed to its BT Financial Group wealth management subsidiary.
“With respect to wealth, the way we think about this is that we want to help customers throughout their financial lives,” Mr Hartzer said.
“We think customers want and need advice, particularly as the population ages … [We’re in a] sensible place and there is a real distinction now being drawn between where we sit and where others sit.”
He also pointed specifically to the BT Panorama platform, which he described as an “open architecture platform that makes it really easy to manage your money” and one of the signs the bank is committed to the market.
“From a return point of view, the growth is still good and the platform is very efficient, so we think that is attractive,” Mr Hartzer said.
He also said the bank is “conscious to eliminate or minimise clear conflicts where [it] can”.
The comments follow NAB’s announcement last week that it will seek to divest from MLC and establish it as an “independent” financial advice business.
It also follows comments by NAB chief customer officer Andrew Hagger to the royal commission outlining how the institutions (not just NAB) are experiencing difficulty running wealth management businesses in the current environment, saying the “risk-return equation” is now unfavourable.
Several firms have been impacted by the corporate regulator’s action.
Super funds must now have a retirement income strategy in place.
Vanguard has called for a complete overhaul of the advice industry.
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