Beware the flashing lights

Beware the flashing lights

The debate over s923A of the Corporations Act is raging, but don’t let the warning lights stop you now. 

Firstly, to the readers and my fellow advice practitioners I’d like to preface by saying there are many wonderful and ethical people out there, not just in our industry, who go out of their way each day to help others, some richer, some poorer and some who don’t know the answers. I strongly believe our industry’s evolution is about to go through its own renaissance.

As many would know, I have been an invisible hand helping to guide change over time, a lot like Adam Smith might have done I guess, but we’ve had great public leaders like Bernie Ripoll who saw the right vision to allow us all some final respect.

In short, whomever inside the hallowed halls of the last bastion of underfunded A–Police in our industry released that legal view before getting a second opinion wins the job for next deputy director of their cash flow brotherhood in Mac Street Parramatta I say.

Two fatal flaws with the current debate over ASIC’s opinion are:

  • ASIC and others are fighting over a word “independent” that contains several other linked and undefined terms as per Section 9 of the Corporations Act 2001; and
  • Having said that, the term “gift” is only defined in the Acts Interpretation Act (NSW) that hasn’t been amended since I left a normal school at age 12 to be bullied at another full of snobs that ended my love of swimming and a sports career.

The entire argument thus far can be short circuited by any plausible argument of the above two points. But I am not wishing to remain on the plane with those in a cabin who’d rather have cheap arguments about trivial flashes of light within our wider fight.

The shortcomings of watching flashing lights

Many who’ve seen my LinkedIn post within the last 10 days would now know this analogy, of Eastern Airlines Flight 401, which crash landed in 1972 in the Florida Everglades killing almost all on board. The problem wasn’t a major one, so minor in fact that it could have been left unchecked. A 20 cent warning light had short circuited as the crew made preparations for landing, connected only to the landing gear that had failed to fully extend into a [full] locked position. Landings of this nature are common and trained for.

In its day it was the second largest loss of human life from a commercial airline disaster. I just don’t want to see us have our own little tragedy over something so simply inconsequential.

The problem I have with our “flight approach”

I have been critical of the media recently for beating up on us some more. It hurts doesn’t it? I know.

I had a bit of a moral dilemma even writing this editorial as I am adding fuel to the fire, but my main point is hopefully not falling on deaf ears. Don’t let this minor topic of Section 923(A) overshadow all the good we do for clients (i.e.: adding to their overall quality of life through better financial choice) and society as a whole.

If you want to fail, practice something wrong constantly, repeat it until you know it back to front and you will be almost guaranteed to fail 100 per cent of the time. The pilots (advisers) of that ill-fated flight knew everything there was to know about their cockpit (practices), where the plane (industry) was heading, how to land it (change it) safely, as they’d trained repeated processes for ‘major panic events’ correctly time and time again. 

But they’d never trained for contingencies like something so simple and it became their undoing from the outset.

There is no point me wasting more key strokes providing an expanded legal or view, that was done last week via “the Donald’s” favourite option – yes there is a reason it was called ‘Twatter’ by some when it hit the cyber streets!

Notwithstanding I am not a lawyer or ruler over other’s thoughts like a few in this country seem to be.

I hope you enjoyed my missive with a sprinkle of “nuance!”

All the best for your careers and business’s ahead… and have a little faith like little “Annie” because the sun will come out tomorrow, I just know it will.


Adam Kennedy is managing director of Ethical Financial Advice.

Beware the flashing lights
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