Yesterday I received this letter from the Minister for Finance, Mathias Cormann. It is in response to some feedback I provided to the government earlier in the year.
I recall attending a Financial Planning Association function a number of years ago and it had been arranged to have two sessions; one with Federal Liberal representatives and one with Labor and Greens representatives. Despite the date being set by the Labor representatives not one of them turned up; they all gave apologies. There were six Liberals in the first session and only Scott Ludlam, from the Greens, in the second session. Credit to Scott for turning up – it’s this reason I was happy to see him get re-elected.
Regardless of your political persuasion I am sure you’d agree it is important for any government to listen to, and try to understand the industry they are legislating change for. I was extremely impressed with Mathias’s understanding of the financial planning industry and his willingness to listen to concerns and issues.
Despite Labor not listening, I do acknowledge their efforts in trying to make the financial planning industry a more professional one, and one which better serves clients. Conflicted remuneration and volume rebates have gone, fee disclosure statements and a codified best interest duty have been introduced, registration by the Tax Practitioners Board is now required and we are heading towards a higher minimum level of education required by Financial Planners. This is all good stuff.
That said, there were some real problems with what Labor were proposing and Mathias and the Liberals have a better understanding of these problems. The changes the Liberals are currently trying to get through parliament is logical and common sense. It does not alter the points I list above, but it eases their implementation. I can only hope that Clive Palmer, with his high standards of ethics, speaks to some Financial Planners and becomes more aware of the industry before the Palmer United Party vote against the proposed Liberal changes.
At Avant we have always put our clients best interests first and operate ethically and with integrity. Our clients seem to agree as well. We acknowledge there are issues with the industry, especially around vertical integration, but legislation for legislation’s sake does no-one any favours – the shysters will simply continue to ignore the rules.