With no major regulatory changes coming through over the next 12 to 18 months, the Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA) is encouraging advisers to focus on their business.
FPA head of policy, strategy, and innovation, Ben Marshan, said 2022 was a year of opportunity for advisers given the lack of regulatory change.
He said financial planners over the last few years had been dealing with being compliant and implementing new processes and did not have the time to figure out where the inefficiencies were and where they could take advantage of technology in their advice process.
“There's an opportunity to sit there and do nothing as a financial planner this year, and there's an opportunity to work on your business and make your business really strong and make improvements this year,” Marshan said.
“So everything that's been frustrating planners – 80-page statements of advice, 100-page fact finds, fee disclosure statements, renewal notices, product application forms, ID verifications – there are opportunities to improve all of those. But you have to spend the time figuring out what you want your process to look like and then start building it.”
Marshan noted that the last few years had been so painful and difficult that many planners were in the headspace that that would continue.
“My role is to be looking at three to five years in the future as that's what I talk to government regulators about and I can see what's coming,” he said.
“It's a year to get our houses in order. You can take a little bit of time and just catch a breath and get back on an even keel. Because there is still a lot of stress, anxiety, depression, and worry out there at the moment which is totally understandable.
“The next phase will be regulatory efficiency rather than regulatory burden. Our message to is that things are looking good for the future. It's about as bad as it's ever going to be at this point in time, and things are going to improve from here. The future of the profession is looking incredibly bright. Now that we've gotten to this point – good things are ahead.”
Marshan noted the FPA this year would be providing planners with new ideas on how to deliver advice to clients such as how to document your advice or not to document advice. It would also look to launch tools to make the fee disclosure statement opt in process more efficient, and it was working with the Financial Services Council on making ID verification and product fee consent simpler.
“If you've made it to here and you've survived, you can look at the fact that the message coming from government is ‘We trust you more, we think you're doing a great job, and you're behaving professionally’, the message coming from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Australian Financial Complaints Authority is the same,” he said.
“Consumer trust surveys are starting to get really positive as well. Look for support from people who are doing well and follow their lead. There are some great examples out there of successful advice businesses that are doing anything particularly novel or special, they've just put it together in a good way and it's not hard to replicate.”