If the Government wants credit for helping the industry it needs to do more to drive “meaningful” change, rather than fixing no brainer issues, according to Lifespan Financial Planning.
Eugene Ardino, Lifespan chief executive, said the Government had fixed things that needed to be fixed but would not deserve full credit until meaningful change was completed.
“The way I see it they [the Government] are fixing things that need to be fixed, some of the things they’ve come out with were no brainers,” Ardino said.
“Maybe I’m being too rough on the Government, but the Government doesn’t deserve credit for doing it, they deserved to be criticised if they didn’t do it.
“If the Government wants credit, they need to look at meaningful change to actually acknowledge that you can regulate an industry out of existence and do away with all misconduct.
“If you have no advisers, you won’t have misconduct. If you have no clients, you won’t have misconduct. But there’s got to be a balance.”
However, Ardino said there was positives to come out of this upheaval for those that stuck it out, despite it being a fast-shrinking community.
“We dipped under 19,000 [advisers], I expect us to get closer to 15,000 over the next 12 to 18 months and possibly to go down further,” Ardino said.
“That’s a massive opportunity for those that stick it out and stick around, and I genuinely believe that at some point the Government is starting to take note of how over-regulated our community is and I think we will see the pendulum swing back.
“I guess the message is hang in there, things will get better. It’s important there are advisers left at the end of this because consumers need you.”
One of the few advantages of the Royal Commission, Ardino said, was consumers were much smarter about the industry and this had been missing from society.
“One of the main positives to come out of the Royal Commission – and there are a lot more negatives to come out of it than positives for consumers – but one positive to come out of it is we have more of an alert consumer now,” Ardino said.
“The Royal Commission is causing consumers that get advice or any financial service to take more ownership and interest in what they’re getting.
“We make it hard because of the volume of stuff that we give them to read but the consumer is more alert. Not necessarily more aware, but more alert.
“That should give us more comfort that if you have an unscrupulous service provider that they’ll be found out.”
Ardino said he believed there was a spike in mental health concerns in the advice community this year.
“I think it’s the coming together of all the new legislation, the education deadline around the corner – yes, there’s an extension, but there’s confusing over what extension actually means and that will be there until the relevant legislations are amended,” Ardino said.