David Penglase

IOOF dealer group RI Advice has enlisted the services of behavioural scientist David Penglase to speak to the advice team about trust and the best ways to manage the tremendous levels of change advisers are facing.

Penglase recently addressed RI Advice team members alongside advisers and their staff in a three-session training schedule, split over three days in Tokyo, according to RI Advice chief executive Peter Ornsby.

“We’re concentrating on getting our advisers more change fit, because change in advice is happening faster and faster,” Ornsby told Professional Planner from Japan. “We want to really look at the personal development side of things.”

After the first day, Penglase explained that the training sessions were premised on addressing the “three levels of trust”; our self-confidence, our trust in others and our capacity to earn other people’s trust.

Trust is being eroded in the workplace, Penglase continued, as increased scrutiny disrupts advisers’ relationships and workflow patterns. One of the by-products of this change, he says, is a loss of autonomy.

“We’re seeing a dramatic increase in the micro-management of people because of the changes being asked around breached of trust,” Penglase said. “When people feel they are being micro-managed they lose their sense of freedom to make decisions, so these competent people are getting frustrated.”

This causes adviser to start limiting themselves, he says. “People bunker down, don’t they?”

Ornsby said this is the type of reaction RI Advice ­Group – which has over 200 advisers – is trying to avoid. “We want to find the tools to help our advisers become better leaders,” he said. “We want to help them deal with what they’re going through.”

Ornsby said one example of the change being forced on advisers was the recommendation in the Hayne Royal Commission final report that ongoing service agreements include annual opt-in periods, with more focus on specific services to be provided.

The change – sure to be introduced by the winner of May’s federal election – will force advisers to be considerably more accountable for their services, which were previously laid out every two years.

“The new annual renewal of OSAs looks like a real discussion point for us moving forward,” Ornsby said. “So, we’re asking the question: what is an ongoing service? How do our advisers want to deal with a change in the way their value proposition is put forward?”

Type ‘A’ achievers

Service agreement reforms are only one example of the change sweeping the advice industry.

From increased education standards and ethics monitoring to the end of grandfathered commissions and rapidly evolving fee models, advisers are being faced with a barrage of reform. The changing licensee value proposition, a surge in self-licensing, increased vigilance from the regulators, new disciplinary bodies and an overhaul of insurance advice remuneration are all part of the current maelstrom.

Speaking to Professional Planner last year on the effect this was having on advisers, Laura Carrocci, a life coach and strategist, said that high achievers were typically adverse to change.

“In my experience,” she said, “type ‘A’ achievers tend to struggle the most with change that is forced upon them.”

Letting go of internal defiance, Carocci explained, was the key to coping.

“Often, a lot of the stress we feel is generated by resistance to change. We sit and ruminate over why it’s wrong and unfair, but ultimately this creates nothing of value and serves only to exhaust us,” Carocci said.

Penglase says that advisers should try to filter out the noise, and focus on “positive intentions”.

“You’ve got to watch who you let near your mind. You can be dragged down and forget all of the good work you’re doing,” he says. “It’s not about positive thinking – it’s beyond that – it’s about being clear on and holding ourselves accountable on what we want for our customers.”

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.
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