Professional Planner has pushed for change from the start. As the industry continues its long transformation, PP will continue to advance the conversation.

Thank you to each of you – our readers and advertisers – for granting us this opportunity to celebrate 10 years since the launch of Professional Planner.

What a decade it has been, in financial markets, in geopolitics and, most importantly, in financial advice, as it has undergone major transformations while inching its way down the path from an industry to a profession.

Unfortunately, while the journey has begun, we are a long way from the ideal destination. Trust and uptake in advice by average Australians are near historical lows. While the reasons for this are many, continued scandals are a key driver, and the fight between industry and retail is not helpful. The Future of Financial Advice (FoFA) reforms, in the form they took after being compromised, did improve matters slightly; however, they have also left many looking for ways around key aspects of the legislation. FoFA had many unintended consequences, including increasing the power of the big six. This trend is now in reverse
at a rapid pace as bank planners go independent.

In the next 10 years, the advice landscape will change markedly once again. Insurance commissions need to end, and I predict they will over the coming decade. Banks are returning to core business and between balance sheet requirements, brand damage, and the constant scrutiny of media, plus an expected royal commission under a Shorten Labor Government, I predict the ongoing disposal of the wealth, advice and insurance businesses at most or all of the top four.

In the next decade, the sector needs to determine how to increase the uptake of advice by working and retired Australians, free of the need for product and free of conflicts. Both the threat and opportunity of technology must be embraced, as this may be where the answer lies. No doubt, every aspect of society will look completely different.

Over the last 10 years, there have been many changes in my own business. Conexus Financial now has three titles and stages 20 annual events across the globe. However, as the founder of Professional Planner, this publication remains one of my notable career achievements. It was launched to support a position that was not appreciated by many at the time: transform a product-flogging sector into a true advice profession, assist readers in doing this in a profitable and sustainable way, assist in the public policy debate over removing commissions, shelf-space fees and other conflicts of interest that led to poor advice and questionable investment outcomes. We had many a near-death experience in the early days, like any business that is courageous in its ambition and survives for 10 years.

The pillars of our success

With this milestone, I have numerous people and organisations it’s appropriate to thank. First, the small and hardworking team, past and present, of Conexus Financial, especially our editor of Professional Planner for more than eight years, Simon Hoyle.

His passion, consummate integrity and blood, sweat and tears are a large part of our success. Simon now enjoys a broader role across our three media brands as editor-at-Large. The same can be said for the driver of Professional Planner’s commercial success in print, digital and over its five events, Sean Scallan, who loves this business and his clients and colleagues, and it shows. Simon and Sean are both 10 years with Conexus Financial and are shareholders. I also welcome our new editor, the energetic and inspired Kate Cowling, formerly of the Australian Financial Review, who joined us this year, and sales team David Robertson and Peter Balinski.

I also want to thank our partners in the Financial Planning Association, Self Managed Super Fund Association, CFA Institute, the Investment Management Consultants Association and PortfolioConstruction Forum. Each of you have contributed to our reach and success. Thank you.

I’d like to thank the many generous individuals of our advisory boards, the many well-meaning politicians who have actively engaged with us, and especially Bernie Ripoll.
Thank you also to our first and long-term advertisers.

To name a few but not all: MLC, Steve Tucker and many marketing heads and teams over the years; Australian Unity, Tania Smith and Penny Bold; AMP Capital and Sam Clarke; Industry Super Australia and Garry Weaven and David Whiteley.

Finally, thanks also to the many people who guide a business and a person, mentors if you like. Three such people are also speaking for us at a small gathering to celebrate this milestone on September 25. They are David Gonski, Peter Kell, and Ripoll. All three are busy and influential men, and all have remained available to me with their time and advice. Thank you.
I also acknowledge our current and past board of Conexus Financial Pty Ltd, including past and current shareholders.

What comes next

Media, perhaps even more than financial advice, has been disrupted and changed forever. While this has caused chaos and challenges, we have decided to stay our course and invest further in quality journalism and continue to make brave decisions in predicting directions for your sector and how best to navigate there. We have no interest in tabloid or gossip. We don’t see how this is interesting or useful in serving your needs when time is at a premium and that
stuff is available everywhere.

Instead, we intend to continue serving your intellectual appetites the next 10 years as you move to being recognised by every measure as the cleanest, most useful, profession, by the community, government, media and yourself.

Best of luck in your futures, and thank for your support.

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