Congratulations to the Financial Planning Association on turning 20 last month, celebrated by a five-city tour featuring technical workshops and recognition of the association’s best and brightest. More importantly, congratulations on the massive transformation the FPA board has achieved, and is in the process of continuing, for the association’s 10,000 members.

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

I remember asking a former FPA chief executive whether he wanted to be more like the Australian Medical Association (AMA), or the Australian Wheat Board (AWB).

The AMA is a professional body representing the public interest in relation to medical services. It has authority to strike off doctors for malpractice. It sets and manages educational standards, is the medical community’s mouthpiece and is constructively engaged with government in policy work.

The AWB is an industry group representing wheat growers. Its key concern is to help farmers sell more wheat domestically and overseas, to help growers make more profit and to negotiate bulk commercial deals.

Both organisations have relevant and valid places in our society, even though they serve two very different purposes. One is a professional association, the other an industry one. With its recent changes, the FPA has become more like the AMA.

Having attended the Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) national conference at the end of October, it was like stepping back in time 15 years. This group is clearly the equivalent of the AWB. They call themselves financial advisers and tell the public that they are. Some are, of course. However, most are solely about selling more insurance, which is fine. What I’m saying is, be authentic in what and who you are.

Good intentions
Richard Klipin, the chief executive of the AFA, who surprised many by quitting last month, has good intentions and high hopes of professionalising its members. But I saw little evidence from the conference that it is actually happening. Too many AFA members are being dragged kicking and screaming, especially the old guard, into the new world of increased regulation and professionalism.

I have real concerns about the reputations of financial planners – FPA members and CFPs who are well educated and most of whom operate as holistic planners – being dragged through the press by those who call themselves financial planners, but without the same commitment to professionalism.

The AFA conference featured lots of motivational speakers and sports people (some of whom only our grandparents would remember). There was plenty of talk about professionalism and the public interest, but the agenda didn’t back up that talk.

I understand insurance companies wanting to make a profit, but it really all looked very 1995. Acting in the public interest takes a massive commitment to being truly professional.

I realise this column won’t make too many friends but, frankly, someone has to say it. Let’s not pretend. The public deserves better. As articles in this issue of Professional Planner make clear, there are certain preconditions that have to be met before any organisation can call itself a professional association, and therefore before any individual can call themselves a professional.

If the AFA is a risk-industry association, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Be proud of it. But call it what it is, and if that’s the case, get out of the way and let a professional association represent professional financial planners – those who are seriously committed, first and foremost, to the public interest.

For an industry response to Tate’s opinion piece, please CLICK HERE

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

5 comments on “Lead or get out of the way”

    I guess having the FPA as your major sponsor you have to say things like this seems to me the only independence issues is with Conexus Financial, its ownership of Professional Planner media publications and your advertising relationships with the FPA. Hmmmm.

    One only has to look at the memberships and the FPA has been asleep at the wheel for years and planners are leaving in droves. If it was not for financial planners wanting to retain their CFP the organisation would be dead. Yet AFA is increasing and going from strength to strength. This is a terrible piece of journalism.


    I think any of the 1500 attendees at the AFA conference would be surprised and somewhat disappointed by the very negative tone of this review. The article is quite misleading. The conference covered a very broad range of topics and was attended by a wide range of industry participants.

    The inference that the AFA is unprofessional and not future or client focused is grossly unfair, the AFA has openly been advocating change and embracing the opportunities which change brings at every stage of the consultation process.

    Change requires input from all affected parties; the AFA has been a fully engaged participant throughout the discussions for many years. The fact that the AFA and its members collectively voice concerns over the affordability of advice and the adequacy of the alternatives should members of the association cease to be able to afford to keep their doors open due to red tape and the unintended consequences of legislated change – should not render them ‘unprofessional’.

    It is vitally important to recognise that the AFA and the FPA come from different backgrounds, the AFA for its part was born from small business owners who were good with people and who had developed skills in communicating solutions to their clients financial needs – its members have a proud 65 years of history in helping people adequately protect and plan for their futures, and in influencing political opinion when debates arise which will impact upon the public’s ability to access personal financial advice.

    The two associations appeal to different advisers for different reasons; both have significant and positive roles to play. I know a number of advisers who are members of both and I know some who are polarised by one or the other. I believe that they both want the same thing but from 2 different perspectives – these perspectives are sometimes at odds.

    I suggest that the AFA has worked very hard to bring the old guard of experience and the young brigade of youth and enthusiasm together to form a body which is future focused while learning lessons from the past.

    Given the distance which the AFA has encouraged its vastly diverse membership to travel in a very short period of time – it has made excellent progress and should be commended for it.

    Yes I am a member of the AFA, my father is a CFP and a past state president of the AFA – I believe in standing up for what I know and believe in – as someone once said ‘if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything’.

    I believe that the comments and criticisms which the writer of the article levelled at the AFA are grossly unfair, insulting and a misrepresentation of the facts.


    Seriously Colin are you kidding me?
    The afa conference must have been a very busy time for you, I’m sorry you didn’t time to check out or listen to –
    Jeremy Cooper (you may remember him, he was involved in the Copper Report!
    Peter Kell… think he might have something to do with ASIC!
    and Peter Kell again when he was host speaker at a lunch during the conference for AFSL Practices.
    Craig James, economist
    any of the GenXt Stream of speakers
    any of the Lincensee Stream speakers
    any of the Investment Stream speakers
    any of the Corporate Super Stream speakers
    any of the Business Leaders Stream speakers
    Or maybe even the Investment Masterclass

    To be fair maybe David Baccinelli’s personal insurance story where he nearly died (being choppered off a boat is close enough for me) might have been a bit to “risk industry” for you.

    And maybe Damien Thomlinson’s story was a bit too much “motivation” for you! Perhaps we should lock up our returned soldiers and not give them a chance to tell their story.

    And lastly sorry you didn’t get to see the finalist for adviser of the year where the winner was Olivia Maragna, an accountant who runs a full advice practice.

    But hey Colin, let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good story.

    You wrap your summation of this conference up with therefore, afa isn’t a professional body because it doesn’t admit it is a risk only association…I must have missed something.


    Everyone is entitled to their opinion regarding any matter, I don’t necessary disagree with Collins views. I have attended both FPA & AFA conferences and I can see where Collin is coming from.

    In Collins opinion he states the AFA is a risk-industry association, let’s be real here and acknowledge that Professional Planner is in the media/advertising industry. As I sit here and write this comment there is a FPA CFP add flashing just to the left of the comment box and another FPA add/link on the bottom of the site page.

    Surely there could be no bias here!

    Matthew Ross


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