There was significant engagement this week around our latest poll, which seeks your view on the survival of risk specialist advisers. …And interim results suggest most advisers have a pessimistic outlook when it comes to the future viability of risk specialist advice businesses…

Which statement most closely reflects your view? In the next five years, the number of specialist risk advisers will:
  • Fall below the current level of 1,200 (80%)
  • Plateau around the current level of 1,200 (14%)
  • Increase above the current level of 1,200 (7%)

Our latest poll seeks your view on whether specialist risk advisers will survive.

The poll stems from last week’s report on Adviser Rating’s latest research, in which it reveals there remain around 1,200 advisers in Australia who are classified as risk specialists (see: Specialist Risk Adviser Numbers Revealed).

Over the years, life companies and other industry stakeholders have mostly agreed the number of specialist risk advisers in Australia rested between 3,000 and 4,500. According to Adviser Ratings, the number of pure risk or mostly risk specialists fell by 609 in 2021 to 1,200, meaning there were around 1,800 specialist ‘riskies’ at the beginning of the year.

These number seem about right, with the number of specialist risk advisers already trending down in recent years to 1,800 by the end of 2020, reducing further to 1,200 at the end of 2021.

Given the current regulatory environment, do you think this downward trend in specialist risk adviser numbers will continue to the point of extinction? And what is the main cause of the current decline: the new minimum adviser education standards or commission caps imposed via the Life Insurance Framework reforms? (See also: Retaining Risk Commissions and Phyrric Victories)

Perhaps you think the declining number of risk specialists has bottomed-out and will either plateau at current levels or rise again to the 3,000 to 4,000 range.

Whatever your view, we welcome your thoughts and will report back to you next week…


  1. Once upon a time the Elevator Operator reigned supreme over the controls of the upwards and downwards mobility of their clients. Pride probably kept them in the role longer than was required and while some clients missed the chat, it was soon discovered that with a few minor tweaks to the technology of the elevator that the clients themselves could in fact operate such highly technical man-made contraptions.

    • Still requires the lift expert to:

      – Recommend the lift for that building (types and levels of cover).

      – Design and engineer the lift shaft (policy features, benefits, ownership structure, premium structure etc).

      – Install the lift and work with other experts such as the electricians (get the client through underwriting including dealing with any unplanned hiccups like loadings/exclusions during the implementation and working with other professionals where applicable).

      – Service the lift (adjust and update the clients cover as life changes happen).

      – Come to the aid of the occupants when the lift breaks down (at claim time, when often the client and their family are at their most physical, emotional and financially vulnerable stage of their life, ensuring everything is looked after and making sure they will be ok).

      – Eventually replace the lift when the lift becomes too costly to maintain or needs upgrading/downgrading (Needs change, markets change, policy designs change, everything changes and we help the client review what is best for them moving forward and be the lift expert all over again until eventually they move to a “single level home” in retirement and no longer need “a lift/cover” as part of their holistic financial plan).

      A specialist risk adviser is not a bellhop button pusher, they are lift experts through the ups and downs.

      Don your analogy is flawed, everyone gets told what level their hotel room is on, what level their office is on and my 5 year old can say what level are we going to and press the correct button. Try asking anyone to do their life and disability insurances themselves and do a good job of it and most don’t even get past the start line or if they do their cover is not fit for purpose, which is why such a high proportion of consumers choose to setup, maintain and claim on their cover with the help of their adviser.

      Peter at RiskInfo, can we make it compulsory for people to use their real names on this forum? This is an industry forum for industry participants, not anonymous people taking silly meaningless pot shots. I’m all for opposing views and debates, but if you can’t put your name to what you say, you shouldn’t have a voice on this forum.

      • Comparing the placement of insurance with the complexities of needs analysis, tax, beneficiaries, ownership structures, benefits and features with the simple process of pushing a button in a lift is fallacious in the extreme. A perfect example is navigating the new variations and options in income protection since the changes in October last year, even for experienced risk specialist advisers who do nothing else.

      • I’m glad you know your lifts. But do you think this is why the life insurance has ~ 10% market penetration?

        Try asking anyone to do their life and disability insurances themselves and do a good job of it and most don’t even get past the start line or if they do their cover is not fit for purpose, which is why such a high proportion of consumers choose to setup, maintain and claim on their cover with the help of their adviser.

        Huge proportions, indeed.

        • With ~70% of new coverage arranged with the help of an adviser, I’d say that’s a huge proportion.

          Under-insurance is a whole other issue that can only be fixed with consumer education, affordable access to quality advice and enough advisers to service the needs of their communities.

    • Don, there is a theme to all your comments. You seem very jilted. You enter discussions without any meaningful contribution, seeking solely to prop yourself up and denigrate others. An incredibly meaningful existence that is…
      Given the frequency and tone of your posting, i am guessing you are a sacked employee of an insurer with little experience at the coal face. You take a condescending tone without actually having an understanding of what you are deriding. Its as though you get a kick out of knocking others, under some delusion that anyone reading the comments here has any respect for what yo have to say. Best of luck and I hope you find something positive to fill your days with.

      • Not sure who you are referring to but with a personal attack like that it sounds like you did them a favour. Please keep the discussions civil, besides you can’t blame someone from slowing down at a car crash to see the carnage. Look at the poll results!

        My point was that technology and globalisation are two the main causes of occupations disappearing: ask the Victorian car manufacturing industry. And guess what? It is happening again. There is a lot of discussion on here about reverting back to the “once great industry” as if the future is going to be just like the past. But no one is asking the question about what role the adviser will play going forward? If the status quo is maintained then the risk adviser will soon be extinct.

        Life insurance is a simple business made complex by various stakeholders trying to “add value” and take a slice of the pie. On that note, you seem to think I spend all my time on this website. If you think writing a paragraph or two takes all day then you must have an over-inflated sense of value. Or is that the problem all along?

  2. Our purpose is to bring stability to and rebuild the risk specialist adviser numbers.

    Based on 12 million individuals and 1 million Businesses in Australia who need Life and Disability cover to meet their needs, if each Adviser looked after 480 personal and 40 Business clients, this would equate to 25,000 Advisers needed to meet demand.

    With the current estimates at now 1,200 risk specialist Advisers and thousands of holistic Advisers who are effectively being forced to scope out Insurance as part of their service offering, there is a big problem and a huge opportunity to build up this Industry again.

    The issues are real, though can be managed and in the 35 years I have been in this Industry, the last few years I have never seen it so bad, yet it can be so good and we are determined to bring a positive change, so anyone who wants to run a profitable risk practice, build up their client numbers and enjoy what they do, will be able to.

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