The head of the Self-Managed Superannuation Fund Association has reiterated his support for a professional SMSF advice industry, underpinned by robust education standards.

In a keynote speech at the SMSF Association National Conference in Sydney, chief executive John Maroney said the professionalisation of advice is critically important to ensuring that Australians have the retirement they desire, especially with a changing superannuation landscape.

“Everyone in this room has been diligently working to build an SMSF profession because we know that, at its core, the word ‘profession’ encompasses integrity, trust, knowledge and expertise,” he said.

Maroney said education was a key part of that evolution into a profession.

“I don’t think anyone questions the fact that improving the educational standards of financial advisers is an important reform that will ensure they are well prepared to deliver the best-quality advice to consumers and assist them in meeting their long-term financial goals,” he told delegates.

Although advisers still await clarity about the precise education options for meeting new obligations, Maroney said the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority’s proposed guidance is a “critical first step”.

“We understand that this proposed guidance, at this stage, is only an outline of their approach, with a lot of detail to be fleshed out later this year,” Maroney said. “We look forward to a constructive consultation process over the next several months.”

In the interim, he said, the industry and advisers are still working through the changes to superannuation announced in the 2016 budget and determining what they mean for clients.

“The impact of those changes is still being felt by our industry; indeed, in areas such as estate planning, we are still on a path of discovery as to the consequences of the biggest overhaul of superannuation in a decade,” Maroney said.

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