Challenges and opportunities

There’s little doubt that 2013 will serve up more than a few challenges to the industry.

 

Front and centre of any conversation I have right now is FOFA, and while I feel the attention that FOFA receives is sometimes a little overdone, there’s no doubt the reforms will change the way advisers operate – and some, unfortunately, will struggle.

Having seen reforms implemented in other financial services sectors – take the National Consumer Credit Protection Act reforms to the mortgage broking industry, for example – we can see that financial planning is, by and large, in good shape.

Professional advisers should have little problem making the transition to the new regime. While there will be more paperwork and checks and balances, the regulations champion the client-focused, compliant adviser and recognise the prospects for growing their business.

Those businesses that fall outside these parameters will face an uphill struggle, and yes, consolidation of the sector will take place – some may argue for the better. A leaner, more professional planning sector will elevate the industry, help it attract new blood and, importantly, ensure a better outcome overall for Australian investors.

Our cover story in this first issue of the year focuses on the industry’s preparation, reactions and plans for moving ahead. While there are different sentiments at play within the market, FOFA is nearly upon us and the onus is on businesses to be ready.

A cross-section of the industry will take a ‘wait and see’ approach to the reforms – a strategy that has its merits –while others will have an action plan in place, fleshed out over 2012, and will not deviate from that path.

Being an eternal optimist, my take on FOFA is that businesses should focus on what they can control and not try to grapple with what they can’t. FOFA is almost here, the final countdown is underway, and so you need to get your house in order.

But as the industry embarks on a new era shaped by the FOFA reforms, ifa is also undergoing changes of its own.

In my November editor’s letter, I discussed Sterling Publishing’s acquisition of the ifa brand and the opportunities that lie ahead for us – and the industry – in developing the product.

You’ll notice this issue of the magazine has undergone a refresh and some rethinking, with greater clarity to sections, easier navigation and reinvigorated content.

The magazine has always been firmly focused on the adviser community and I’m proud to also announce the launch of a new digital platform supporting the print magazine – www.ifa.com.au.

ifa has been an industry institution during the past 14 years and the launch of www.ifa.com.au will propel the ifa brand into an exciting future.

Sterling Publishing is renowned for its ability to build digital engagement platforms for financial services – ifa’s sister publication for the mortgage industry, The Adviser, recently won the Publishers Australia award for Best Integrated Platform as well as a raft of other accolades, including the coveted Publishers Australia Excellence Award.

The launch of www.ifa.com.au draws on Sterling’s capability in this area as well as on the group’s drive to genuinely connect the financial planning sector and build a greater sense of community within it.

It recognises that financial planning can sometimes be a lonely business for advisers and that as owners of small to medium-sized businesses, they face their own set of challenges.

The new digital platform will maintain this spirit of connecting and engaging advisers, offering them a neutral space in which to share experiences and engage in debate that will influence the development of the sector as well as help establish best practice.

Importantly, it gives advisers a greater voice.

www.ifa.com.au is underpinned by fresh thinking and a talented editorial team to create news, insight, opinion, features, reports and rankings delivered via a daily e-bulletin, web broadcasting, polls, blogging and comments, as well as a new weekly web broadcast.

I trust you’ll find the new digital hub an asset to your business and I’d appreciate your feedback or input on how it should be developed further.

Sincerely
Phillip Tarrant

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