AIA Australia National Account Manager Jeremy Bernardi, CoreData director financial services Sean Allen, Matrix Financial Planning chief executive Todd Kardash, Conexus Financial Business Development Manager Sean Scallan


Matrix Planning Solutions was announced the winner of the Professional Planner Licensee of the Year Award for the second year in a row, during a two-day conference in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, on Monday.

The need to rebuild trust in the wake of the findings of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry was the topic du jour among the roughly 100 attendees, who ran the gamut of licensees – the independently owned, the institutionally affiliated and institutionally branded.

Matrix chief executive Todd Kardash said winning the award was “an absolute honour” but gave a nod to the environment the advice and wealth management industry finds itself in, noting the victory was sobered by “winning in the year of the royal commission”.

The winning licensees in each of three category were: GPS Wealth for independently owned; Commonwealth Financial Planning for institutionally branded; and Matrix for institutionally affiliated.

Independently Owned Licensee of the Year

GPS Wealth took home the ceremony’s first award, as Independently Owned Licensee of the Year 2018.

CoreData director of financial services, Sean Allen, presented the award to GPS managing director Grahame Evans.

Evans explained the advantages of operating as an independent licensee.

“Being in the independently owned space allows us a lot more flexibility,” Evans said. “We don’t have the shackles on us that other licensees might. That ensures the quality of advice coming through.”

Evans said the previous year had been a tough one for licensees and praised the loyalty and faith of advisers.

“What we’ve seen is that our advisers have stuck with us and understood some of the challenges in having someone like ASIC crawl over licensees,” he said. “We’ve also had technology challenges and tried things that didn’t work, but [our advisers have] stuck with us all the way through and they still value what we offer them.”

Evans said the next 12 months would be about showing the way for advisers.

“It’s all about leadership,” he said. “It’s about giving them leadership on where they can take their business in a changing world. And that’s what we’re going to focus on – showing them which way to go in a changing world.”

Other finalists in this category were Fortnum Financial Advisers and Centrepoint (Alliance Wealth).

Institutionally Affiliated Licensee of the Year

Institutionally Affiliated Licensee of the Year 2018 was Matrix Planning Solutions. Matrix fought off strong competition from RI Advice Group and Financial Services Partners.

Allen handed the award to Matrix chief executive Kardash, who said winning was “an absolute honour”.

“It’s an industry award and winning it amongst our peers is obviously a nice thing to do,” Kardash said.

Institutionally Branded Licensee of the Year

Commonwealth Financial Planning won the Institutionally Branded Licensee of the Year Award 2018, over BT Advice and ANZ Financial Planning.

The award was accepted by both Hugh Humphrey, Executive General Manager, Wealth Management CBA and James Webb, General Manager, Bank Financial Planning.

Overall Licensee of the Year Award 2018

In accepting Matrix’s Overall Licensee of the Year Award, Kardash thanked the team and noted that winning for two consecutive years was “quite an achievement”.

“Obviously, the competition is quite stiff out there,” he said. “We’re delighted. With these sorts of things, you don’t take them for granted.”

The awards, now in their fourth year, celebrate the achievements of the businesses that license and support financial planners in Australia.

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