The principal and founder of a boutique funds management firm has called on associations that represent financial planners to form a united front that is focused on consumer outcomes and quality of advice.

Andrew Fairweather, principal and founder of Winston Capital Partners, says the range of associations representing different segments of the financial planning industry have “more in common than with each other, and instead of focussing on the differences, we should focus on what they all truly believe in: high quality advice, delivered by highly trained advisers, who operate under the same set of laws”.

Fairweather has even suggested a draft “mission” statement for a yet-to-be-created association that “represents all financial advisers and their consumers”.

Associations as oxen

On a blog published on Winston Capital’s website, Fairweather draws parallels between the issue of fragmented associations and Aesop’s fable about four oxen and a lion. In this fable, the four oxen fall prey to the lion by acting independently of each other instead of facing the lion as a united and therefore stronger group.

“Winston Capital Partners has been doing a lot of work to understand the structure of the financial advice market here in Australia – knowing this is important if you want to engage in the market in an intelligent manner,” Fairweather told Professional Planner.

“Along that journey, it dawned on me that we seem to have too many associations that are focused on a battle between each other, ‘competing’ on the basis that how a license is held is important to consumers – and it is, to an extent,” Fairweather says.

“But it also dawned on me that Industry Super Australia (ISA), the bigger threat to retail financial advisers, presents a strong and consistent voice in the market for the 30 industry super funds that ISA represents – that is, it is not fragmented.”

Hearts and minds

In his online article Fairweather argues that there is currently underway “a battle for the hearts and minds of Australian retail investors who have taken a battering to their confidence during and after the GFC”.

“Many unfairly blamed their financial advisers, fund managers, the media et cetera – but rarely themselves. Trust was broken, even when advisers provided great advice before, during, and after that volatile event – we all learned and it was stressful for everyone.

“I believe that financial advisers have more in common with each other than they care to admit, regardless of where or how their license is held. By focusing on the common elements, we could take the best from each Association to present a united voice to retail clients and to Canberra when lobbying our politicians.”

Simon Hoyle is head of market insight for CoreData Research.
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