24th April 2018

Financial planning advice in Australia faces change after miss-selling problems says GlobalData

The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry is poised to reveal widespread failure across the Australian financial planning sector, whose reputation has already been battered by recent miss-selling scandals and violations of Future of Financial Advice’s(FoFA) ‘best interest’ duty. The effects could be more than a fine, and a focus on vertical integration and the inherent conflicts means that the industry has to brace for significant changes ahead, says leading data and analytics company GlobalData.

Peter Kell, the Dputy Chair of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission(ASIC) recently asked an independent expert to review the quality of financial advice that had been provided by 137 licensees to self-managed super funds(SMSFs) and found that 90% of advisors failed to comply with the best interests of their clients.
Earlier this year, when the ASIC examined whether advice to switch to in-house products satisfied the best interest requirement, three-thirds of advisors failed to comply.

Heike van den Hoevel, Wealth Management Analyst at GlobalData, says “Customers are likely to think twice about the type of provider they opt for. This will drive growth of the independent advice market. Even demographics that are not typically drawn to independent financial advisors will find themselves more likely to opt for independent advice when they learn their trusted banking partner has been pushing products that are not in their best interests.
“On the flipside, financial planners are likely to ditch the big four banks(Commonwealth Bank of Australia(CBA), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group(ANZ), National Australia Bank(NAB) and Westpac Banking) and AMP to set up their own businesses. In an industry plagued by a shortage of talent, that will be a big headache for Australia’s wealth giants.”

GlobalData’s Global Wealth Managers Survey shows that 80% wealth managers already agree that it is increasingly difficult to hire new relationship managers or other front-line staff.
Admittedly, there has been a 41% upsurge in the number of financial advisers in Australia from around 18,000 in late 2009 to more than 25,000 in 2017. However, the commission has learnt that only one-third of them(35%) hold a relevant university degree.
To address the issue, new compulsory education requirements for both new and existing financial advisors will come into effect on 1st January 2019.

van den Hoevel adds “Australia’s big incumbents engage in both the provision of personal advice and the manufacture and sale of financial products, such as superannuation and insurance. Transitioning away from the vertically integrated model into a conflict-free model seems increasingly likely. This will be the biggest change to the industry since the big four banks moved into the wealth space more than 15 years ago.”

Already at the end of 2017, ANZ announced the sale of its OnePath Pensions and Investments business to IOOF, and CBA divested its insurance business CommInsure Life. Looking to the future, there have also been rumours that NAB could spin off its wealth business.

van den Hoevel concludes “As the Royal Commission is bound to reveal further failings, the wealth industry, which has previously been on a relentless path of horizontal and vertical consolidation, is about to get a strong push towards fragmentation and divestment.”