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AFA Restricts Advice Practice From Promoting Award

The AFA has taken steps to prevent advice practice Henderson Maxwell promoting itself as a winner of one of the Association’s flagship awards, following concerns raised at the Royal Commission about advice provided by the practice.

AFA Chief Executive, Phil Kewin

In a note to members, AFA Chief Executive, Phil Kewin said the recent hearings at the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry highlighted a number of issues that were wrong within the advice sector and required a collective approach to repair.

He also pointed out the Commission hearings were not designed to promote advice, and that any negative news was likely to impact the wider advice sector.

“The objective of these hearings, we need to remember, was not to highlight the incredible work that the majority of financial advisers do every day to give their client’s financial and emotional security,” Kewin said.

“Whilst it may be possible to look at this from the perspective that this does not reflect what I do and should not impact upon me, the reality is that we will all need to do more to recover from this and to regain the trust of the community,” he added.

“The objective of these hearings…was not to highlight the incredible work that the majority of financial advisers do…”

Kewin also told members the appearance of 2016 AFA Practice of the Year – Henderson Maxwell – at the hearings was of great concern to the Association (see: Award Winning Practice May Face Criminal Charges).

“On the basis of the evidence presented and after due consideration, the AFA has taken steps to prevent Henderson Maxwell from holding out or promoting that it was the winner of the 2016 AFA Practice of the Year Award,” Kewin said.

Speaking to Riskinfo, Kewin said Henderson Maxwell have been instructed that they can no longer hold out to have won the Award, and that the business had agreed to do so.

An examination of the Henderson Maxwell website also confirmed the practice had removed any mention of the Award.

The AFA will be making a written submission in response to a number of issues raised during the Royal Commission hearings and Kewin said that across many of the subjects raised during the recent hearings “…there was one key over-riding theme around corporate culture and how this may impact on the decision-making process”.

“Importantly as part of our submission, we will ensure we highlight and clearly articulate the value of financial advice and the reasons for having an ongoing relationship with a financial adviser as it is apparent from some of the questions that have been asked that there is a lack of awareness of the value of financial advice,” he added.

  • Robert Coyte

    Rather than trying to rewrite history the AFA should be more careful who they give awards to. If they don’t like the fact that such self publicity can backfire maybe they should scrap the award concept.

  • Yachticus

    A good call on their part – fair to say they acted in good faith that the Coy was playing the game properly – a bit like the promotion of Brian Freeman at AFA functions about his work with the VET community – and that has ended in a mess. Keep on keeping on AFA – but be careful who you lend your good name too –

  • Dan

    The only advisers that win awards are those that put great effort into promoting themselves and their egos. AFA should scrap all awards as it will always be subjective and often the wrong advisers win ( I know advisers that had huge compliance problems with their employer and were pushed out only to go on to win an award – a time bomb waiting to explode. I say the AFA should save money as there is no such thing as the adviser or practice of the year and instead of wasting money on these useless (and now dangerous awards) focus on benefiting fee paying members in particular in representing us better during periods of industry consultation. The best advisers are the “quite achievers” as they are the ones that are focused n their clients welfare.

  • Tony Smith

    The AFA award should be granted to members who are long standing and have a track record, not people who join the association whether it is one day or six months as has happened in the past, simply to win an award. The executive need to tighten the criteria. There are many people who have served the association for many years and dont receive any kind of award.

  • Paul F

    Having been through the AFA Award process, the AFA is fair in boasting the most rigorous and detailed program to find the best practices and advisers in the AFA.
    To some of the previous comments, having some sort of aspirational award to set a benchmark for what advisers and advice practices should look like and behave like is not a bad thing.
    That being said, based on the Royal Commission, which you would assume had investigators look into Henderson Maxwell (HM) and the advice process it provided to Donna McKenna very thoroughly, the AFA denying HM’s ability to market the award would seem a very poor example of consequence Management.
    The RC has subsequently recommended the firm face criminal charges so lets not mess about Phil. The award should be stripped and the AFA distance itself from this business.

  • Dan

    By having these awards all they have done is diminish the value of membership as we are associated with the fall out of negative press. Keep in mind it is a tiny proportion of advisers that actually bother to nominate for these awards as most don’t have time to waste and concentrate on doing the job as a quiet achiever. It is not possible to identify adviser of the year or practice of the year as in reality the best candidates do not nominate as they lack self interest. Self interest seems to be a common denominator in poor conduct.

  • Alleycat

    Doesn’t this highlight how useless these awards are and are only self- serving pats on the back to those who have nothing else to hang their hat on ?
    Look at the industry gongs given out to various insurance companies on a year by year basis.
    It’s like they are all standing in line and go to the top of the queue when it’s their turn to get one.
    For some of us who deal with the life companies getting awards, the experience of service levels, product benefits, claims settlement are the complete antithesis of what these awards are supposed to represent.

    It’s a joke because most don’t even care about their clients because even they don’t know who that is.
    For those who are wondering,….. it’s the adviser who’s the insurance company’s client, the person on the piece of paper is the adviser’s client.
    They are not even a mutual client because it’s the adviser who decides where the client is placed.
    Ask any admin staffer who they think their client is and 99.0% of the time you will get the wrong answer.
    Most life companies don’t care about the adviser which is why they have colluded with government, an incompetent bunch of regulators, the FSC and other self serving groups to drive out the advisory industry with the introduction of the LIF legislation.