General Advice Option? Poll Results

It’s possible to transition my personal advice clients to a general advice model
  • Disagree (44%)
  • Agree (38%)
  • Not sure (18%)

The result of our latest poll appears to suggest there is plenty of support for the idea that it’s possible to transition personal advice clients to a general advice model within the context of advisers finding a solution to extend their career and their relationship with their clients.

As we go to print, the doubters still outweigh those who believe such a transition is possible, but the margin between the two camps isn’t big. For many, this may come as a surprise, but as we pointed out last week (see: …Transitioning Personal Advice Clients…), this question isn’t about whether or not you agree with the concept or are opining as to whether such a move is easy or hard. Rather, this poll is simply asking whether you think it’s possible – and many have said it is.

In looking at one of the next questions in this conversation – namely whether a move to general advice is not only possible but feasible, our challenge has been to speak with advisers ‘on the record’ who advocate that such a move is indeed within their scope, because they prefer to remain under the radar for the time being, while the industry continues to evolve in a regulatory sense.

In the meantime, while it’s too early to establish whether a move to general advice will become a ‘real’ alternative for many advisers who are presently being challenged to retain their place in the sector due to regulatory reforms, it appears that there’s a growing body of conversation around the fact that at least there may be alternatives out there for some of these mostly more mature-age advisers.

The question should not be IF we can move our Advice model …it should be HOW do I do it

As one adviser commented last week:

The question should not be IF we can move our Advice model to something that enables us all to have choices and still be a great contributor to our clients, it should be HOW do I do it, so I can stay in this once great Industry and continue to help people.

If you want or need to continue, then there is ALWAYS an answer.

Our poll remains open for another week and we welcome your vote and your comments as this debate continues. Let’s keep talking…


  1. Yesterday the ALRC released a preliminary report on its investigations into advice and the Corporations Act.

    One of the statements being made is that the Commission does not like General Advice. They say it’s not really advice, and they are spot on. ASIC of course have always maintained that call centers armed with an approved script, could never actually fall into personal advice. That of course has always been ideal logically-driven rubbish, but ASIC of course always had a bias against self-employed advisers, and turned a blind eye to the sins of bank advisers, until they were revealed in evidence to Hayne.

    When the banks come back into financial advice, they will be wanting to use general advice and flog sub standard products using technology. FASEA & LIF would have removed half their self-employed adviser competition, as was planned.

    The Commission would also want to get rid of the useless definition of “financial product advice”. But the Commission will not report until 2023, Governments move slowly, if at all, and any recommendations may not really be implemented for 2 to 3 years. By that time the diploma deadline of 1 January 2026 will be rattling our cage

    I remain of the belief, until someone can prove otherwise, that an experienced adviser with a large RISK client base, who knows his clients intimately, can ever recommend a product without tripping over the cliff into PERSONAL ADVICE. That’s why Westpac were found guilty recently because they argued they were providing general advice to some of their existing clients. But, the Federal Court declared that they COULD NOT provide general advice because they already held a significant amount of information on the clients financial situation, and needs, when the Westpac call was made to to the client offering to switch super.

    So even if advisers who fail FASEA but wish to retain their book of business and some of the income pertaining to that book of business, jump ship into an arrangement where they provide general advice to existing clients, with personal advice being provided by a different licensed adviser employed by third-party, I am not confident that system would work as stated.

    Under the current rules, I can’t imagine ASIC letting this new interpretation stand for very long, given they now have the Westpac case to back them up.

    Then if the a ALRC recommendations are carried by government, general advice would have disappeared in any event, regardless of what ASIC thinks .

    • Old Risky, I always really enjoy seeing any new comments from you – they are usually quite prescient and always very well thought through. I retired last week (sold the client base – all risk) after much deliberation especially along the lines of your comments above. The kicker for me was as you say: –

      “Under the current rules, I can’t imagine ASIC letting this new interpretation stand for very long, given they now have the Westpac case to back them up.” (Old Risky, Dec 2021)

      You see, no matter what we do or how smart we get by thinking ahead, it isn’t US it is THEM who make and enforce the rules – to THEIR whim and purpose, not ours or our client’s best interest. This is as clear as the over-size nose on my face these days 🙂 To paraphrase the late wonderful George Carlin – ‘it’s a big club and we ain’t in it’. Nup, we certainly ain’t – the big end of town lunching with ASIC and agreeing to pecuniary penalties that won’t hiccup their bottom line profit. All good for the big guys looking after each other while making a public show of them all doing their jobs and that the perpetrators are so very sorry. Good look for the cameras and then all down to the pub together. It is all a sham and most of us continue to pander to it and not rise up or at least call it out forcefully enough . . .

      Anyway, it was all simply too much after 36 years so I left while the leaving was good. I think the exits will be narrower as we approach 2025 and the volume of exit-ees will increase markedly, especially riskies. It was an insult to risk advisers having to do the ‘irrelevant-to-risk’ AQF uni degree qualifications just so we can keep doing what we’ve done successfully for decades i.e. advising on IP, term, trauma – simples for an experienced adviser. I’ve no argument against financial planners getting fully qualified as they enter the industry with zero experience. But for these cretinous bureaucrats to push simple risk advisers out because they won’t do/can’t pass irrelevant FARCE-IA exams or uni degree quals which are totally irrelevant to their daily work is untenable, certainly at age 60++.

      My daily thoughts will be with the enduring riskies, as they battle the ultimately undefeatable ASIC/govt bureaucracy in this country unnecessarily, to quietly try to help their risk clients. They are braver and stronger than I ultimately was. More trusting in the future of our once great industry, too . . . All God’s grace and power to you Old Risky as you continue to argue the good fight as you do! 🙂 (P.S. BTW, feels great beyond words to be free of all this nonsense and constant stress at last – hope to see you when you transition to this other side!)

  2. At risk of being accused of hogging the debate I do wish to add to my statement below.

    Firstly thank you for your comments Squeaky 21, much appreciated. Enjoy your retirement

    I had a conversation this morning with a licensee who I respect. I put my proposition to him that it would be very difficult to stick to general advice and not drop into personal advice when dealing with your existing clients in particular. This is because YOU actually already know what that clients objectives, financial situation and needs are and you’ve known for a while, because they are your client. But in that new environment, all bets are off. .

    He made the valid point that the adviser with the existing client base who takes the general advice option will in effect be a NOTETAKER ONLY. He has to visit any existing or prospective client that seeks a review or wants to buy some more cover. take copious notes and ask questions, but under no circumstances OFFER AN OPINION or suggest a strategy or the product solution to facilitate that strategy. That is going to be very difficult for most experienced risk advisers.

    The factfinder and the notes are then sent to a personal advice adviser and a discussion between the first and second adviser develops the strategy. When the strategies are developed, a zoom meeting occurs between the first adviser, the second adviser and the client and at all times the second adviser must be providing the advice and preparing the SOA. It’s a middleman role, with appropriate reduced remuneration

    Now I am not sure whether ASIC are still engaging in Shadow shopping but it would not surprise me. There will be traps set whereby a prospect you had never heard of will contact you and seek to buy a product. You must ask that client how it is he’s come to you. You will have to be extremely careful that you are not making recommendations, providing premium information or giving opinions. That will be difficult for experienced risk advisers who looked after clients with love and care for a very long time. This is not going to be the picnic solution some would have you believe, and knowing ASICs control freak nature, they will probably develop suggested scripts for the encounter!

    That of course assumes that the concept of GENERAL ADVICE as we know it continues unchanged.

    What a mess. For the banks, FASEA is the gift that keeps on giving. Already we have a 25% drop off in self-employed advisers and the fun has only started. There will be little competition when the banks return, and, believe me, they will return to advice.

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