Is the Tide Turning for Advisers?


The tide is turning for advisers, with strong signals from politicians and ASIC that the compliance burden needs to be lightened so advisers operate more effectively and efficiently, says the AFA’s National President Michael Nowak.

Speaking at the close of the AFA EVOLVE Conference Nowak said addresses at the conference from Minister Jane Hume, Shadow Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones and ASIC Chair, Joseph Longo, “…revealed a significant and welcome change in tone from Government, Opposition and the regulator towards the advice community.” (See: ALP Softens Position on Future of Risk Commissions.)

Nowak says this is encouraging and “…gives us reason to believe that the tide is turning for advisers and the advice sector after we’ve been flooded by a tsunami of regulation.”

Michael Nowak addresses the conference from Brisbane.

He told the virtual attendees that the industry is being listened to and that there are actions in place “…to start to facilitate a more sensible working environment for financial advice.”

He added that the hard work by the AFA and other associations seems to be working and reminded delegates to look to the AFA if they need help and support in these challenging times.

Financial Adviser Hub

ASIC Chair Joseph Longo told the conference that the regulator was looking at creating a Financial Adviser Hub on its website so relevant content was easier for advisers to find.

It was also looking at adding extra guidance in the form of an example Statement of Advice, and an Information Sheet about Records of Advice.

Longo explained that last year ASIC had looked at unmet advice needs and the impediments industry faced in providing quality affordable and limited advice to consumers.

He said the feedback it received from industry consultations was that:

  • You want shorter, easy-to-access and simpler guidance from ASIC
  • There are barriers to providing limited advice, including a lack of clarity about the regulatory requirements
  • The cost of advice is increasing due to rising overheads and regulatory costs, cost in relation to preparing Statements of Advice and licensees taking an overly conservative approach to compliance
  • You think that strategic advice could benefit consumers, but again cited uncertainty of requirements
  • Although most of you don’t provide digital advice, or intend to provide it in future, you do see great potential for technology to support the advice process

Longo says the next step is for ASIC “…to deliver initiatives to assist industry overcome some of these impediments and meet the needs of Australians. The proviso is that we do what we can – resources and regulatory role permitting.”

He added the regulator will continue to engage with industry “…as we work towards helping you meet the as-yet unmet advice needs of consumers.”

He concluded his speech by saying he was optimistic about the future of the industry. “As long as we each play our part,” noting that financial advice is crucial – even more so during the current pandemic.

Longo also acknowledged that while the introduction of new professional standards has caused some angst among the adviser community, he was confident that the changes will be beneficial to advisers and clients.

“So as we look toward the future, the lines of communication must remain open in both directions. Not just for the financial health of Australians, but for the benefit of the industry as a whole,” he said.

ASIC Chair, Joseph Longo in discussion with the AFA’s Phil Anderson.