What I learnt about financial advice, FoFA, and best interests from toll roads…

Financial TollRoads?On Wednesday night a couple of weeks ago the latest round in the Future of Financial Advice (FoFA) saga limped through parliament heading for who knows where. Due successful lobbying by financial institutions, plus noise from incumbent industry associations and funds, Australian politicians continue to demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of our future financial advice market.

Despite original intent, the FoFA legislation is less about providing Australians with financial advice and more about flogging financial products. To illustrate, think about toll roads for a moment…

Consider the major financial services suppliers (i.e. Westpac, AMP, National Australia Bank, Industry Funds, ANZ, CBA, Macquarie et al) as toll road suppliers (Macquarie already understands the similarities!).…

Focusing on high net worth clients? Really?

iStock_AustralianCurrencyIs your advice firm striving to crack the ‘High Net Worth’ market – i.e. rich people?

It’s not getting a bit ‘old-fashioned’ for advice firms is it?

I suppose if you use other people’s money to make your money, the high net worth client is a logical focus. Similar to the bank robber‘s attraction to banks (i.e. follow the money!)

There are lot of reasons to focus on this market.

Apart from having lots of money, the high net worth client is usually accustomed to delegating.

The people with the big bucks often have the big houses, the big boats, big jobs or big businesses and take big holidays.…

Trying to explain best interest (and governance)…

iStock_SlipperySlopeAheadSpoke to a financial advisory firm last week who were very excited about their very own investment platform which they now intend to offer to their advice clients.

The ownership of the platform is a couple of the original owners of the financial planning firm. Wherever possible all new funds will be deposited onto the platform. They intend to gradually switch the majority of existing clients funds across when they review their advice clients. The platform is a part of their longer term thinking to leave their existing institutional license and obtain a licence of their own for greater independence.

They also have ambitious plans to roll up and acquire several similar like-minded advisory firms across the country.…

Advice is not a product – Part III

iStock_IntegrityHomes aren’t products.

Most Australians wouldn’t pay strangers to squat in the rooms of their homes.

Why do Australians accept the fees from the many faceless manufacturers, platform providers, planners, fund managers who crawl all over their superannuation?

Because that’s who has the power in today’s superannuation market.

Because the power in today’s superannuation marketplace is held by the large banks, the huge superannuation funds and insurance companies and because none of these make a cent from pure advice, it’s easy to appreciate how Australians have been conned into believing that superannuation is just another ‘product’ for a far-off retirement.

As long as politicians, regulators, banks, manufacturers, the media, financial planners, and on-going financial services inquiries (e.g.…

Advice isn’t a product – Part 2

iStock_CompassAdvice isn’t a product.

Advice is far richer, deeper and more valuable.

At the heart of good financial advice is a on-going conversation that ignites life’s possibilities and helps realise their attainment.

Despite the banks alluring advertising, the value in the actual financial product is minimal when compared to the value of attaining much sought-for aspirations and objectives. Products can play an essential role, similar to the role of the jet engine on the wing transporting passengers to dream holidays. However the value of the jet engine doesn’t match the value each holiday-maker holds for their holiday.

Possibilities and aspirations are the guts of great advice.…

Advice isn’t a product.

iStock_supermarketDo Woolworths sell advice?

Do Coles sell advice?

Do banks sell advice?

None of these groups sell advice. They all sell products.

Unfortunately when it comes to financial advice, Australia’s consumers don’t know the difference between financial advice and financial products.

Advice doesn’t provide the same tangiblity of a physical product from the supermarket or even the same intangibility as a loan specifically to buy your new home.

In terms of tangibility, advice is more the invisible hand supporting or pushing you to financial objectives not yet reached or over obstacles not yet overcome. Or advice can be the ‘helping hand’ holding yours providing the confidence for your next venture, adventure, challenge or simply your next step.…