When the pace of change is fast, and when the change seems to be never-ending, it is not surprising that a large proportion of the community feels a deep sense of unease. And it’s understandable that resentment sometimes bubbles over when change is driven by factors that appear to be outside one’s control. We see this in our society at large. Massive and rapid change can cause significant social dislocation.
Reference points are shifted, the traditional or established ways of doing things are challenged, and it causes anger and fear, and often, a backlash. We see this, writ smaller, in the financial planning industry. It’s difficult to think of any industry that has been subject to closer scrutiny and regulatory review than this one.
So it’s easy to understand why a significant number of planners wonder just who is standing up for them against the forces of change.
Critics of the Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA) who believe the association has abandoned its members to the whims of regulators, industry funds, consumer advocates and the media, should welcome the appointment of Mark Rantall as FPA chief executive. In truth, the FPA has always fought for planners’ best interests.
That was certainly the case under Rantall’s predecessor. But confusion or mistrust seems to have arisen in relation to what role the FPA should play as a professional body, as opposed to a trade association.
Rantall is adamant that the FPA should commit itself to being a true professional body. It’s not remotely interested in being some sort of industry spruiker or apologist. A professional association exists to set, promote and, when necessary, police professional standards, codes of ethics and behaviour; a trade organisation exists to promote and protect its members’ interests and help them sell as much stuff as possible.
Rantall’s view of the role of the FPA is fairly straightforward: Some change in financial planning was undoubtedly necessary and overdue, and where that change accords with the FPA’s view of itself as a professional association, and of financial planning as a profession, it has accepted that change and worked with regulators when possible to modify the likely impact of the change. But it’s also obvious that some change is not necessary, is potentially counter-productive, and should be opposed. Among those issues are commissions on risk products – Rantall says commissions should be retained both within super and outside super – and the proposal for
an annual client opt-in.
In Rantall, financial planners have a champion prepared to fight their corner, and push the profession’s best interests. As the saying goes: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference. Rantall had been in the job only a few days when he spoke to Professional Planner, but it’s clear that in their new chief executive, FPA members have a leader not only prepared to fight, but a wise one, to boot. Rantall will spend the rest of this month attending FPA chapter events and meeting members. Keep your eyes peeled for when the Rantall show rolls into town – it could be the ideal opportunity to meet the new guy, and see for yourself. was set straight on this issue myself, while talking to two well-known industry identities, Ray Griffin and Peter Bobbin.
While Future2 was set up as “the foundation of the financial planning profession”, and the FPA provides some administrative support, Future2 operates autonomously. Ray and Peter are preparing for a 1250+ km bike ride from Bourke to Sydney. They start on August 4 and if all goes according to plan will roll into Sydney on August 13. Their aim is twofold: firstly, and perhaps most importantly, to raise awareness of Future2 and the work it does helping the disadvantaged in our communities. And secondly, to raise funds along the way.
At the time of writing, BT had signed up as a gold sponsor, with Matrix Planning Solutions and Telstra as silver sponsors. Ray and Peter were hoping to attract further sponsors, and to garner donations and financial support along the way. Ray and Peter aren’t the first, and certainly will not be the last, people involved in the planning industry to support Future2 and its works. But if you read about their ride at www.future2foundation.org.au/wheelclassic you’ll get a sense of why this event is a little different from some others.
In Sydney a week or two ago, Ray certainly looked up for it. He’s covered some 8000km on his bike this year, in preparation. Peter? Well, Peter had completed his first 160km training ride. All he has to do now is string together seven or eight of those in a row, and he’ll be home and hosed.