Risk Adviser discusses with AFA national president Deborah Kent what's on the association’s radar for 2016.
What will the AFA be looking at in 2016?
Next year will definitely be an exciting year for the AFA. We are looking at continuing our contact with consumers with Your Best Interests, our financial literacy strategy and also with the Economic Security for Women, which we have been involved in recently. And the reasons for these are these are initiatives to bring financial advice and the community closer together. That is something we feel is our role and something we should be doing for the advice industry. So that is one point that we are working on.
We will also be continuing our support with advisers, obviously through this next phase of evolution of our profession with professional standards and helping them to be able to meet any of the expectations around the education through this particular part of the reform. So, we are going to have to put a lot of support behind that.
The other really key initiative for us next year is continuing to create success with our advisers by supporting them in what they do best, which is giving advice. The AFA has very good engagement with its membership and that comes through our roadshows, our conference, and our communities of practice which is GenXt, Inspire, and our leaders forum. So, this is another part where we feel we are providing something back to our members to help them do what they do best and improving them and their businesses.
This year we have seen an upswing in our education piece which is our Fellow Chartered Financial Practitioner designation (FCHFP), and we see that continuing into next year. We have also seen an upswing in membership this year, which has been great – 2015 has seen us grow just over 40 per cent in new members.
We have also continued to build the operational team of the AFA so we can continue to meet all these expectations and what we need to do with membership.
Will insurance feature on the Your Best Interests program next year?
One of the programs on there had insurance in it. So, it has actually promoted the good reasons behind insurance, but certainly we do need to continue to build on that education piece with consumers around insurance. We know we have an underinsurance problem – we have just gone through a raft of reforms – and we need to work with our advisers and help them through this next phase, but also to get the message out to consumers.
What challenges does the AFA see for advisers heading into 2016, and how will the association help advisers?
We know the two obvious ones – the Life Insurance Framework, which we know we have to help advisers on and how they will have to work in the changing environment. So we will need to be able to help advisers through that one and support them. We will be building in parts of our roadshows and conferences on how they can continue to survive through these changes.
The other very big one I believe is the professional standards and education. We really need to make sure that whatever comes out of this next part of the reforms – and this is going to take a bit longer – is how we can assist our advisers into getting into the requirements they need to.
So, they are two big challenges for advisers. Certainly they are challenges for us, because we need to help our advisers get there, and the professional standards was always going to be challenging and a big piece of work and it is going to be ongoing.
Do you see the AFA continuing to be a representative body for financial advisers, but also risk specialists?
Absolutely – our history has come from a risk base. But, as the regulations change and advisers need to do more, we have actually changed. So, I guess the membership mix has changed where we’ve got more what I call advice – so holistic advice that encompasses risk. We still have risk specialists and I believe we are still an association that risk advisers can look to. We haven’t evolved past that and risk is an important part of what we do. But I think for the risk advisers though, we need to help them through these changes because they are the ones that are going to be affected the most.
What are you looking forward to in 2016?
I am still looking forward to being president over the next 12 months – I finish in October. This year has been a very exciting and challenging year, but we have also done some great things with. We have had a lot of reforms to deal with, but we also have a lot of great things happening in the background which we as an association will do to help our members and get that engagement.
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