Last month, we held our first annual Risk Advice Summit, co-hosted by Professional Planner magazine, as a follow up to a series of roundtables on the future of risk insurance advice.
As I noted when I opened the Summit, as an industry we can learn from the past and choose to lead and not be led.
Four hundred advisers and advice business owners came together at the Hilton in Sydney for the Summit, with the objective of ensuring Australians continue to have access to quality and affordable advice.
The day-long Summit focused on thought-leadership, hearing from policy makers, regulators, experts with overseas experience and real-life client and adviser stories, at a time when important changes relating to advice practices and remuneration are being considered.
I posed the question to participants: What does a sustainable risk advice industry look like, which is able to meet the growing needs of Australians, but is also an enduring model with appropriate remuneration?
Minister of Finance and leader of the Government in the Senate, Hon. Mathias Cormann, spoke about implementation of the Royal Commission recommendations, and indicated the government was prepared to see the LIF reforms rolled out in full and the ASIC 2021 review completed, before determining whether further adjustments may be required.
I was pleased to hear the Minister recognise that regulation needed to balance consumer protections, competitiveness, the viability of the industry and affordable quality advice.
Shadow Assistant Financial Services Minister Matt Thistlethwaite advised Summit attendees that the Senate committee process was the best place for industry to have its voice heard on new legislation, along with direct contact with the local electorate representatives.
I agree that advisers are best placed to educate their local politicians about their businesses, the role they play in the community, and their concerns for the future. If you would like any information or assistance on getting involved in advocacy yourself, please get in contact with the team at AIA.
We heard from the head of the AFA, Phil Kewin, about the need for the industry to have one message, spoken with many voices. On remuneration, Phil expressed frustration at the need for the industry to justify commissions when the general public is not complaining about them. Dante De Gori, CEO of the FPA, added that consumers should be given choice in how they pay for advice.
On the final panel session of the day, alongside Tim Bailey from Zurich and Simon Swanson from Clearview, I made it clear that a commission ban that led to fewer consumers accessing risk advice would be a terrible outcome. This was a view strongly supported by my fellow panellists.
The real issue we need to address is that we have a growing, under-served need for advice and protection in Australia. We need to look at what is required to support advisers and grow our advice industry to deliver better outcomes for Australians and their families.