Our operatives planted strategically throughout the financial  planning industry have been carrying out our bidding, unnoticed  and highly effectively, for the better part of a decade now. With  their connivance, we got the Future of Financial Advice and life insurance framework legislation through; education, professional and ethical standards are on the way; and in late June, the icing on the cake: financial planning practices that don’t measure up to Section 923A of the Corporations Act can no longer describe themselves as “independently owned”.

What we’ve been trying to do, for our own nefarious purposes, which I won’t go into here, is paint financial planners and financial planning businesses in such a poor light, and to make life so damn miserable for them, that they’ll  pack it in and go do something else because, you know, profit or something.

At first, we thought the rush of regulation and legislation and the 50-plus inquiries we were able to get started would just choke it to death. It proved  to be a little more resilient than  we anticipated, but we decided it would be much more satisfying to do it slowly anyway.

Bringing down the financial planning industry has been our objective all along. It took  a considerable period of time to recruit the right people into our ranks, but once we’d done that, and inserted our sleeper agents into strategic positions across the industry, the hard yards were done. Then all we had  to do was wait.

When the time was deemed right, and upon our signal (Don’t tell me you missed that?), our operatives went to work. First, we set up systems and incentive schemes to make sure we charged clients for advice but didn’t provide them with any. We deliberately devised and implemented KPIs for advisers that prioritised sales over clients’ interests. Where we did provide services, we hid the fees.  We ensured our documents didn’t tell consumers that their advisers were part of the same institutions whose products they were flogging.

We briefed individual operatives to hop from one licensee to the next, to plant little bombs of poor practice and egregious non-compliance throughout licensee businesses, timed to go off at pre-determined moments so that the flow of bad news would be constant and uninterrupted. I’m immensely proud of the work they have done.

The efforts of our propaganda unit have been no less impressive. It’s choked the debate with deliberately misleading and obfuscatory materials. I cannot tell if the head of the unit is a genius or whether he’s clinically insane, although to all intents and purposes, when it comes to comments sections of trade publication websites, the distinction is meaningless.

It’s all been one giant, co-ordinated conspiracy, you understand. You surely can’t have doubted that, although perhaps it’s only becoming clear to you now as you read these words. How else could such  a calamitous series of events have taken place,  with such exquisite timing and flawless execution? You think these things happen by accident, by some sort of random chance? You poor, clueless fools!

No, our plans to destroy financial planning by tearing it down from the inside have progressed exactly on schedule and exactly as we intended. Nothing can stop us now. As we watch attention turn to the Corporations Act to adjust the law so  it allows terminally conflicted advice business models, we see the industry in its death throes.

In the back bar of the Moon Under Water pub,  our little group of subversives and saboteurs gathers to assess our work and survey the damage. We raise a glass and toast our undeniable success. Getting this stuff done has been so easy it makes me laugh out loud.

Dixon Bainbridge may be contacted by email only since his phone was disconnected - and it's best to try in the mornings. The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of Professional Planner, and not even necessarily grounded in reality, to be frank.
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