The absurd blanket claim by Industry Super Australia (ISA) that financial advisers cannot be trusted is irresponsible at best, and libellous at worst.
The hard truth is that many ethical, well-qualified financial advisers risk becoming collateral damage in the after-effects of the Royal Commission into Banking and Financial Services if such ill-informed claims are left unchallenged.
I believe painting all financial advisers with the same dirty brush used to expose malpractice and unethical behaviour by some individuals and institutions is to the detriment of many truly good people, professionals, and our nation’s health and wellbeing.
So, on behalf of the 14,000+ professional financial advisers who work tirelessly and ethically as FPA members to fulfil their statutory obligation to act in their client’s best interests every day - I say to my industry peers, and media, this is not the time for fear-mongering.
Consumers need to know who they can trust with their money. Unless you’re recommending we all stash our money under a mattress for a rainy day, it’s deeply irresponsible to scare anyone away from considering a qualified financial adviser in these unstable economic times.
The Royal Commission revealed an underbelly of malpractice and toxic corporate culture with often unconscionable disregard for human impact. We all heard how some people lost their homes, livelihoods, and retirement dreams due to some unethical advisers and outdated institutional practices.
My use of the adjective “some” is intentional, and worth noting by ISA and anyone else who risks tarnishing an entire profession based on the abhorrent actions of some.
There’s an army of ethical, professional, good financial advisers out there ready and equipped to provide informed advice in their clients’ best interests. Not ‘some’, not even ‘many’, but ‘most’ financial advisers are qualified and ready to help people achieve their clients’ money and life goals.
Rather than scaring people away from getting good financial advice, I’d urge industry commentators and the media to actively direct people to resources that equip people of all ages to make informed, responsible decisions about which financial adviser may be best suited to their specific lifestyle, dreams, and financial position.
There are resources like fpa.com.au/find-a-planner that list only FPA-registered financial advisers that have a statutory obligation to comply with the highest standard of ethical conduct, for example, and online guides like “Finding the Right Financial Planner for You” that people can and should use if they’re feeling unsure, unsettled, or scared by their financial security and future.
Finally, trust is earned, never assumed. That principle applies to Super funds, as much as it does to doctors, lawyers, and of course, financial advisers. Many of our FPA members’ new clients come through referrals and personal recommendations, that only happens based on a positive experience-- and there are many, many positive client stories to be told, by the media if it cares to do so, and anyone else committed to meeting the Australian public where it’s at and helping them take informed steps toward a brighter future.
As such, I call on ISA to withdraw and correct its libellous and irresponsible claim that “it should not be assumed that financial advisers can be trusted”, and for Money Management to publish the above response verbatim under my byline.
Dante De Gori CFP, Financial Planning Association chief executive, 31 January, 2019