Media perception of industry tough to overcome

As non-advised people only get their perception of the industry from the media, it’s hard for the industry to reach out and change that perception, even with high client satisfaction, according to an adviser.

At a webinar hosted by the Association of Financial Advisers (AFA), Bill Webster, Tempus Wealth founding partner, said those who received advice were positive on the industry but it was tough to build beyond that.

“The reality is, about less than 15% of the public are actually advised – that 15% would be a nine-out-of 10 on the trust factor with advisers,” Webster said.

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“It’s the other 85% that are non-advised and they’re only reference is the media about what our industry is about.

“If your only reference point about an industry is the media then you’re going to struggle with that trust factor."

Webster said the adviser business community was one that was caring, which was completely overlooked.

“If you go to everyone who has been advised in our industry – and most of the advisers would say the same thing – they have got 100% trust with their clients in them,” Webster said.

“We can only go to one client at a time so our job is to get more people advised, to get more people in a relationship that they feel valued, needed and they feel this person cares about them.”

A previous AFA webinar highlighted the mental health toll media reporting had taken on advisers because of how the industry was judged.

Dr Adam Fraser, who conducted research on the subject with AIA Australia, The e-lab and Deakin University, said at the time how advisers were painted in the media had significantly hurt advisers.

“What we haven’t paid enough attention too is the impact of that on people,” Fraser said.

“It’s deeply wounding and scaring for many advisers who have worked hard, who have so much meaning and purpose attached to what they do to have this unfair criticism of them out there in the market place.”

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The feedback from people who use professional financial advisors is inevitably positive. Proof is that when people use financial advisors, they use them again and again.

The media prefers bad news over good news and a misbehaving advisor always gets into the news and not the advisors who have helped their clients navigate superannuation, life choices, investments, and much more as we know. The average of 85% pass rate is as good as any other profession but the media always looks to the 15% who failed (those who failed don't help by complaining and not addressing their shortcomings).

Complaining about the Royal Commission and the Government's reactions does not help either as that just leaves impressions that something did and does stink (and there was plenty of stinks). Rather the approach should be to say the issues have been taken on board and the financial advice industry is doing many positive actions.

Dare I say it, but the profession bodies should take a leaf out of the industry super advertising campaigns and tell these good stories - say comparing two people - one who used a financial advisor and one who did not.

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