Professional Planner’s editorials and cover story on the role of the Financial Planning Association (FPA) and the Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) in professionalising financial planning prompted a significant response from readers. Many responses have been in the form of private correspondence with the authors. Not all responses are fit for publication, but where a respondent has given permission, we reproduce a sample below.

Positive responses have so far outnumbered negative responses by about two to one – an unusual result. Generally, negative responses to stories outweigh positive ones. In this case, the issue has clearly struck a chord with a cohort of the financial planning community that otherwise remains silent.

We’ll continue to add to these responses we receive them, and we encourage you to add your voice to this vital debate – either by email or via the comments section at the bottom of this article (or at the the bottom of this article).

Simon Hoyle

Professional Planner 

To download a full PDF of the December/January editorials and cover story, please CLICK HERE


Congratulations on your article in December’s Professional Planner. We are a small boutique licensee on the journey to 100 per cent fee-only. In fact, for a long time now I have been following NAPFA [the National Association of Personal Financial Planners] in the US and we have just been accepted as a NAPFA Financial Services Affiliate – a first for Australia.
Your article hit home when we asked a major insurer if they could adjust all our clients to nil commission – unfortunately they couldn’t do this, but they could offer us a standard SOA to move everyone to a new product and $300 per client for the privilege.
I did strongly suggest they still don’t “get it” – we don’t want to be bribed – we just want the premium reduced for our clients and we don’t want the commission as we are moving to a flat or minimum professional fee.
Well done again on your comments – I am certainly a proud CFP holder and happy with the direction the FPA is taking.
Andrew Peters
Semaphore Private


I understand the difficulty it must present to be in the media and to feel obligated to cultivate all parties but [I believe] that media and publications (just like professional associations) that try to take a leadership role have an obligation to lead the conversation and to challenge the myths of the community they report on.
It’s always been my optimistic view that leadership creates followers (i.e. customers) and I suspect the industry (institutional and individual) are now definitely following the words of Professional Planner.
So congratulations – now you’re leading!
Frankly, which Association you pick as your professional, member or industry association is less important than why you pick them, because as the editorial mentions, what matters is “truth in labelling”. So long as those people paying the fees understand the truthful nature of the public, member or self-interest nature of the organisation they are giving their fees to, then it’s perfectly fine. Naturally enough, I will always be on the side of those groups that choose genuine professional goals and public interest because that’s what “professions” are meant to do.
Financial services as an industry is still on a learning curve in this area but I would hope that editorials and discussion like the one you have promoted challenge the entire industry to consider what it means to be genuinely consumer focused and protecting of consumer interests. If it leads to more people (and more groups) wrestling with the challenges of becoming genuinely professional, then all the better.
I want to congratulate you both on creating a landmark edition of “Professional” Planner that may spark an even bigger wave for a debate about the broader public issue of “professions”.
Deen Sanders
Executive officer
Office of the Professional Standards Councils


I feel it is necessary to point out the errors made in this editorial for readers of Professional Planner as it is quite misleading and forms the wrong conclusions based on an inaccurate understanding of the medical profession.
As someone who has had the privilege to attend medical conferences in recent years for RACS and RACGPS I would like to point out the following:
– These conferences use inspirational and motivational speakers.
– These conferences put on quite a show with song and dance to ensure the event has the wow factor.
– These conferences put on extraordinary gala dinners with the highest quality of food and wine at the most decadent of venues.
– These conferences are the doctors’ opportunity to celebrate and reward their peers.
– These conferences have professional development content; however, the event has a greater cause – that being the opportunity to get together and bond as a family. Doctors are a tribe that stick together, protect each other, advocate and help each other. This is all at its best when doctors conference together and without them I am sure the profession would slowly fracture like many other associations.
Anne Fuchs
Strategic adviser and director
Pinnacle Practice


I find found your analysis [Professional Planner, December 2012 – January 2013] thoroughly thought provoking. I think an open and honest discussion about the journey that we as an industry are taking towards professionalism should be encouraged.
I am sure many in our industry will perceive it as a personal attack on their professionalism but I hope they also reflect on the key issues you raised about what professionalism truly means. It serves us well to have different bodies within the industry differentiate themselves based on the community’s and then their members’ best interests. I look forward to you giving the AFA a right or reply next month to progress the debate.
I also think an element of this important debate reflects a generational change that is occurring. There are many, especially among the “younger” financial planners we speak to, who are redefining the way they do business for long term growth and success.
Keep up the thought provoking work.
Tim Mackay
Quantum Financial


To download a full PDF of the December/January editorials and cover story, please CLICK HERE

2 comments on “An open discussion on professionalism”
    Colin Williams

    An interesting article and the discussion is one to follow – Note, a few comments are also on Twitter which of course has a wider and more diverse audience.

    I’m now more involved with the web and social media as opposed to being directly involved with running a financial services business. However, the one lesson for all that’s happening today compared to the recent past (no need to go back to 1995) is the need for transparency. Everything we all do is there for all to see and comment upon, just as we are doing right now with this article.

    Everyone now has a ‘megaphone’ to tell their own stories and experiences about the advice that they have received. Ultimately, the public’s perception created from these stories will define the path that advisers need to take. However, one thing is for sure – Being anything but authentic will lead disappoint for all advisers, the dealer groups and the institutions.

    Matthew Ross

    Colin Tate – I take my hat off to you sir. Saying things that need to be said. True leadership.

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