It was a defining year to say the least for the financial services and wealth management industry and also for Professional Planner, which recorded its strongest year for digital audience numbers in its eleven year history and launched a new website.

In the spirit of reflecting upon the year that was, I’ve pulled together what I think are were the biggest and most defining moments during the last 12 months.

Let us know if you think we’ve missed something or if there’s anything you think we should have added further weight to.

Year of the Hayne  

The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry kicked off in March but the advice industry was under the most intense spotlight in April during the second round of hearings.

At the end of October the Hayne royal commission’s interim report landed with a thud, calling out the industry’s propensity to satisfy self interest over client interest.

Professional Planner sifted through the documents and all the fine print which it used to form the basis of its reporting during the recent months.

 

FASEA has landed

Perhaps the most contentious topic given the wide ranging impact that’s expected between now and 2020 when the industry new education standards will be firmly in place was the announcement of the Financial Adviser and Ethics Authority guidelines and framework.

Professional Planner was front and center at the Financial Planning Association’s Professional’s Congress this year where FASEA CEO Stephen Glenfield made his stage debut to field some heavily anticipated questions.

 

Platform pricing

For many, 2018 will go down as they year the that the battle between investment platforms intensified, with BT taking its message directly to consumers, taking out full page advertisements in daily newspapers.

There were arguments that not all comparisons were apples with apples. What’s inarguable is that smaller upstarts have started winning some ground from incumbents but no where near enough to knock the big players off their perch.

 

Breaking business models  

The swift exit of backs out of wealth management will be a defining factor this year that will continue to play out in 2019. ANZ was the first to ink a deal with IOOF to sell its aligned dealer groups at the end of 2017. National Australia Bank followed suit with an informal announcement which led to a formal commitment to spin off its MLC brand early next year. CBA announced it’s wealth exit to great fan fair, Westpac remains the holdout bank which continues to hold onto its ownership of wealth business.

Meanwhile, Professional Planner’s yearly Licensee Survey reflected the changing of the guard of advice practice ownership from the banks and AMP with IOOF forecast to take the mantle as the largest owner of wealth management next year, although there’s also the possibility IOOF’s rise from 6th to largest owner of wealth management in the country could be derailed.

 

Bye bye grandfathered commissions

For many it’s now a forgone conclusion, but back in July there was still a lot of contention around whether grandfathered commissions should stay. The Association of Financial Advisers made its case for preserving the Future of Financial Advice relic, the Financial Planning Association suggested a three year transition was enough. Wealth giant AMP continues to support the case for keeping grandfathered commissions in play even though Kenneth Hayne appears to already have his mind made up to finish the job FoFA started.

 

Political hot seat

In August, Professional Planner sat down with the then Minister for Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer to talk about her portfolio and the challenges for the industry ahead in an extended interview. By September, when the issue of Professional Planner had published, O’Dwyer was no longer in that position following a leadership spill which ultimately led to Malcolm Turnbull ceding his leadership to Scott Morrison.

If the results of the polls in recent weeks are anything to be believed, it will likely be an uphill challenge for the Liberal Party to win back control of the leadership next year, in which case the extended ‘Man in waiting’ interview Professional Planner did with the current shadow treasurer Chris Bowen will be all the more relevant.

 

Advisers in the frame

Every week Professional Planner shines the light on a practicing financial adviser through its regular practice and adviser profiles. Sometimes these profiles can be missed among the more agenda setting stories, but this year’s profiles have given insight into numerous stories where ingenuity, ambition, creativity and persistence of the industry’s front line has been showcased.

Also this year, Professional Planner kicked off it’s ‘In our best interests’ series of profiles, which highlight the stories of clients and their advisers side by side. These profiles have been a great success and we’re keen to bring more of these interesting stories into the public domain in the new year.

 

Live on stage

Every year, Professional Planner hosts four conferences focused on the advice and wealth management industry, and 2018 provided many highlights from professionals and provocateurs at the top of their game.

The Retirement Conference was held in March in the shadow of the second round of the Hayne royal commission hearings. Meanwhile, delegates gathered at the Licensee Summit in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney amid the heightened discussion around self licensing. Practice owners discussed technology, business planning and advice strategies to sold out audiences in Sydney and Melbourne for the Best Practice Forum. And finally, in November, Professional Planner’s decision to walk away from its annual fund awards added an edge to the debate at its Researcher Forum in Sydney where insights around managed account structures and investment committees were shared amidst lively debate.

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Smith is the editor of Professional Planner’s print and digital platforms. He is an experienced financial journalist, editor and multimedia producer who has held senior editorial positions both in mainstream press and trade media.