Where has the year gone? Seriously. The shops are full of Christmas gear and we’ll be ticking over to 2016 in no time. 2016! We’re more than half way through the second decade of the 21st Century. Does anybody else remember partying like it was 1999 (for context Prince wrote that song OVER 30 years ago – in 1982!) So, to help you remember and before you forget, we’ve come up with a few thoughts on some of the most important happenings (in Financial Advice) of 2015.
1. The ASIC register was unveiled
April this year saw the unveiling of the ASIC register containing the details of more than 22,000 financial advisers. It details those employed or authorised, directly or indirectly, by Australian financial services licensees, and enables consumers to find out information about their adviser before they receive financial advice. The 'Financial adviser register' available on the MoneySmart site has detailed information about all appointed financial advisers, including their employment history and products they are authorised to provide. It’s a great government resource, so if you are yet to check it out you can do so here.
2. Malcolm becomes PM
On a cool spring morning in September the Nation awoke to the news that we had a new Prime Minister – the 5th in five years. Malcolm Turnbull's ascension to the top job was welcomed by many in the financial community, who imagined his business experience and background would ensure a sympathetic and understanding ear for their concerns. Apparently still enjoying a honeymoon period, his conciliatory tone and well publicised oratory skills make him a harder target for his opponents to lay a glove on than his predecessor. He came to power promising “an economic vision, (and) a leadership that explains the great challenges and opportunities that we face”. We look forward to him sticking to his word with regards to the challenges we face in the Financial Advice sector.
3. Rise of robo-advice?
We know some people think the cost of financial advice is prohibitive. We don’t necessarily agree with that, we think (and studies show) that people are better off financially and less worried and anxious about their future after they get financial advice. Still, commentators are constantly calling for more affordable advice for regular Australians. Enter Robo-advice . Automated online advice platforms promise to make getting reliable advice more affordable. Already there are several initial versions of this type of advice in the market place. If it gets more people thinking about financial advice we think it’s a good thing. We’re sure once people have a taste for advice, many will graduate onto a traditional adviser and reap the specific benefits specialist one-on-one advice can offer.
4. Industry getting the message
As an industry we had more than our fair share of scandals continuing to dominate the headlines this year. However, it does appear (and we hope) that the industry is committed to reform and to challenge and change any negative perception that exists in the public mind. We know from the comments on our site that there are thousands of Australians who are very happy with their advisers and the advice they receive. We’re working to promote the good, and with new guidelines being set by government we’re hoping to see some concrete steps forward in this regard. Already we’ve seen an increase in numbers of advisers getting further education and qualifications, major institutions commit to providing money for new ethics training program for their financial advisers and the Banking and Finance Oath (BFO) gain more traction. We hope that these signs prove to be a turning point for the industry, and that both advisers and the institutions they support continue their commitment to improving industry standards and getting real, tangible results.
By Rodney Lester, Adviser Ratings