Westpac is close to finalising the group of advice firms it will refer clients to after announcing its exit from advice in March, with acting general manager of advice Ashley Stewart stating the referral program’s launch will happen between July and September this year.

In a note to Professional Planner, Stewart said the external referral model – which was originally piloted back in 2017 – will involve an “expanding” number of external advice businesses that have completed due diligence testing. “This process covers a broad range of factors at AFSL, practice and adviser level,” he said.

“Westpac continues to work through its due diligence process with a number of specialist advice businesses across Australia in order to finalise the initial panel of providers,” Stewart continued.

“The Westpac Group’s advice referral program will support banking customers to access personal advice services across a range of customer segments.”

Potential providers

It is understood the bank’s external advisory panel will take the shape of a broader network consisting of more than three member firms.

High on the list of likely providers would be Viridian Advisory, the group Westpac entered a sale agreement with for its advice business licensed by Securitor and Magnitude, representing 209 and 97 advisers respectively plus support staff.

Other potential suitors include the licensees – other than Viridian – that are taking on former Securitor and Magnitude advisers. Industry sources report advisers front-running the September 30 ‘D-Day’ date have joined a mix of licensees including Fortnum, Paragem, Madison, Total Financial Solutions Australia, Affinia and Centrepoint.

Negotiations for the transfer of advisers to these licensees are currently ongoing.

The amount of advisers flocking to self-licensing is limited by timing; the Westpac announcement was made on March 19 and gave a roughly six month window to September 30, which is about the minimum amount of time it takes to currently get regulatory approval for an Australian Financial Service License.

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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