If the most read stories on ifa this year were anything to go by, financial advice in Australia is continuing its long march towards professionalism and independence from the big institutions, but those changes are coming at a hefty price to the wellbeing of advisers all around the country.
As we look forward to both the challenges and opportunities that the next year will present, it is worthwhile to reflect on the year that was 2019. Here are the top 10 stories that were most read on the ifa website this year.
Published: 13 February
An affidavit submitted to the Federal Court revealed ASIC admitting there was no evidence that any client was deceived or misled by Dover Financial’s Client Protection Policy, which was one of its main justifications for shutting down the licensee.
However, the document left the Federal Court unconvinced of director Terry McMaster’s innocence, as the number seven story in the countdown will reveal.
Published: 24 June
A running theme this year has been the lack of consultation with advisers on important decisions that have been made by the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority. But it was the alleged “significant conflicts” of interest from its directors that compelled industry educator, former adviser (and FPA outcast) Dr Adrian Raftery to call for their resignations.
Published: 3 October
While almost every adviser has had to find their own way to negotiate the myriad of industry changes, the ones that have a much rougher time than most are the advisers at AMP. It was then revealed that a growing number of them could be forced to sell their homes to pay back business loans to AMP, while at the same time reducing its buyer of last resort (BOLR) arrangements from 4x to 2.5x for fee paying clients and a multiple that would be worth close to zero on grandfathered fees.
Published: 22 November
Dover Financial director Terry McMaster finally got his day in court (even though he didn’t physically turn up) as the Federal Court decided on the former dealer group’s much-discussed Client Protection Policy. The decision effectively ended a long-running saga that stretches back to June 2018, when Dover announced it would shut down its AFSL.
Published: 12 August
This story is what began the AMP adviser saga. It suggested that the leadership team of chief executive Francesco De Ferrari and chairman David Murray was in the process of turning their 2,400-strong network of advisers into debtors. ifa editor James Mitchell called the move “the final solution” to its advice woes.
Published: 30 July
The financial advice industry has continued its move towards professionalism by shunning the commission-based model of years past and moving towards a model based on fee-for-service. Part of that shift has been a ban on adviser commissions based on legacy products (or grandfathered commissions), which the government announced in July. The bill banning grandfathered commissions would pass through Parliament in October.
Published: 30 August
Ever since FASEA revealed its deadlines to meet certain qualification requirements if advisers wanted to keep working as adviser, many advisers as well as the AFA and FPA said there were too difficult for many advisers to meet. FASEA relented by extending the deadline for advisers to complete its exam by one year to 1 January 2022, and extend the deadline by two years for advisers to meet its educational qualification requirements.
The bill putting the deadline extensions in place has been tabled to the Parliament and is currently awaiting approval.
Published: 29 August
After revealing that it would be reducing its adviser network and devaluing aligned practices under its BOLR arrangements by 37.5 per cent, AMP announced that hundreds of its financial planners received a termination letter from the company as it looked to cut a significant portion of its network. The response from advisers was one of anger and disgust at the AMP leadership, but also sympathy for the advisers who were hard done by despite showing their loyalty to the group over many years and, for a few, even decades.
Published: 1 August
Amid the industry changes, what has largely been left out of the discussion has been the personal and mental toll the changes have inflicted on advisers on the frontline going about their day engaging their clients and trying to keep their business afloat so they have an income to raise their families. This article shone a light on the mental health of advisers, which then compelled more advisers to come forward with their stories and the AFA and FPA to provide mental health services for their respective memberships.
If you or anyone you know is currently experiencing emotional or psychological issues, you can utilise the below resources:
* Lifeline, 13 11 14, www.lifeline.org.au
* Suicide Call Back Service, 1300 659 467, www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au
* MensLine Australia, 1300 78 99 78, www.mensline.org.au
Published: 19 March
I do have to admit, I was a bit surprised that this was the most read story of 2019 ahead of some the hard-hitting stories of the nine preceding it, as well as many others that didn’t even make the countdown (I’ll leave that for you to ruminate in the comments). But for a title like ifa, with its long history of railing against the vertically-aligned financial advice models of the major institutions and advocating for advice that is non-conflicted and in the best interest of clients, perhaps not. Now that they’re out of financial advice, Westpac should probably look to addressing some of its other issues.
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