Licensees should be active in helping advisers win back public trust in the wake of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, the chief executive of the Financial Planning Association said.

Speaking at the Conexus Financial Licensee Summit in the Blue Mountains on Monday, Dante De Gori stressed that while advisers need to show their value, licensees also need to step up and help.

“We need to educate the Australian public about what financial planning is, because there’s still a mystery for many Australians around what services and advice a financial planner can give,” De Gori said. “Licensees have a pivotal role in this because as the ones who are running financial planning businesses and employing financial planners, they have a duty to help promote the importance of financial planning.”

De Gori said the first priority of licensees should be to help advisers serve their clients. But they also need to consider taking a more active role in showcasing advisers and giving them public accolades when praise is warranted.

“So, supporting advisers in two ways,” he said. “One, helping them deliver great quality advice to their clients by making sure they are appropriately trained and have all the resources they need. Then, secondly, helping promote and echo the great work they are doing in the community and demonstrating it by rewarding those planners that do the right thing.”

The industry as a whole needs to do more around educating the public as to what financial advice can offer, De Gori said. He lamented that many Australians still perceive advice as focused on investments only, and that many people are under the misconception that they don’t have enough money to warrant seeking financial advice.

“In fact, financial planners can help many, many Australians in different situations in terms of the advice they give,” he said.

These directives will always be secondary, De Gori noted, to the importance of advisers continuing to deliver what their clients need most.

“The first thing we need to do is ensure that we keep delivering great advice and services to our clients,” he said. “They will become our biggest advocates in terms of the quality of advice we give, and they will refer and promote that to friends and family. We need to keep doing that.”

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Tahn Sharpe is a Sydney-based financial services journalist with a background in financial planning. He writes on advice, superannuation, investment, banking and insurance issues, is a certified SMSF Adviser and holds an Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning.