We’re all on the same team so why doesn’t it feel like it

Last week, in announcing the Super Members Council’s (SMC) support for the Delivering Better Financial Outcomes (DBFO) bill, chief executive Misha Schubert said the legislation, and, more specifically, changes to section 99FA of the SIS Act, would help stop “dodgy financial advisers” from using cold-calling businesses to solicit clients.

It was a comment for which she has since issued an apology, saying her comments were “mischaracterised” and “not meant to be generalised to all financial advisers”.

As we all know only too well, no one suffers more than financial advisers when terms such as “dodgy financial advisers” get thrown around. Particularly when the term financial adviser is incorrectly applied, as it so often is. The Corporations Act 2001 section 923C restricts the use of the term “financial adviser” and “financial planner” to those who are a relevant provider (aka a licensed financial adviser). Yet time and time again, these terms are quickly applied and interchangeably used in the context of unlicensed operators.

The conflating of licensed advisers and unlicensed operators is one of the biggest challenges facing the financial advice profession. The reputational damage it causes, along with the perpetuation of various myths, cut deep.
Today, the advice industry thrives on having the highest standards – a testament to the hard work and commitment of the advisers that remain. They have no truck with those doing the wrong thing, and for the very small percentage that do, there are legislated processes and penalties.

The time has come to separate the myth from the facts and for all stakeholders to take a stand against unlicensed operators who cause tremendous reputational damage to advisers doing the right thing, to say nothing of the financial pain they can inflict on unsuspecting consumers.

One final point is worth making. For years, it’s been the SMSF sector that has led the way with retirement income strategies. With about 50 per cent of SMSF members in retirement, it’s an issue our superannuation sector has successfully addressed – in no small part due to their advisers.

Not so the APRA-regulated funds. They have been in accumulation mode and some are only now coming to grips with policies that address the needs of their growing cohort of members nearing or in retirement.

It seems to your Association that these funds have something to learn from our sector in terms of how to address members’ retirement income needs. After all, we do have the same goal of giving every Australian a dignified and secure retirement, so it is time that we worked together to achieve the best possible outcomes for everyone.

Written by Peter Burgess, 
CEO, SMSF Association