Leanne Milton, AMP

AMP Financial Planning’s mass market managed discretionary accounts experiment is over, with the wealth manager making the decision to walk away from its MDA authorisation, the group’s head of research has confirmed.

Meeting ASIC’s expectations relating to transparency, performance measurement and monitoring of MDAs became too commercially challenging, the group’s head of research, Leanne Milton, said.

At last count AMP was the largest licensee owner by adviser numbers in the country; the group has been scaling back its advice footprint under the leadership of group executive for the advice business, Alex Wade, since it announced its strategy “reset” in August.

Milton confirmed the move by AMPFP to walk away from its MDA authorisation at Professional Planner’s Researcher Forum in Sydney this week. AMP’s Charter Financial Planning and Hillross maintain their respective MDA authorisations at this stage pending further reviews of the offerings within these groups, Milton said.

“It just became impossible to provide these products through the AMPFP network commercially and meet the conditions the regulator expected,” said Milton, who was joined on a panel by IOOF’s head of research Matt Olsen and Centrepoint Alliance’s head of research Miriam Herold. The session was moderated by MLC’s John Gray. Researchers on the panel are responsible for the inclusion of products and investment strategies implemented by advisers representing close to a quarter of the country’s total advisers, based on Professional Planner’s Licensee owners list at the end of May.

AMPFP’s decision to walk away from its MDA authorisation followed conditions placed on the licensee by ASIC in April this year, on the back of a surveillance project undertaken by the regulator. Rhys Bollen, ASIC’s head of investment managers, described this project and its likely outcomes to the Researcher Forum audience.

AMPFP’s Leanne Milton (far left)

It’s call to desert the MDA authorisation comes at a time when the broader group has reorganised its research team into one centralised team – as opposed to separate teams servicing the various brands. AMP’s research team, headed by AMP’s CIO Lakshman Anantakrishnan, will be expanded and will look to concentrate its efforts on a narrower list of products, Milton described.

Under AMP’s new research structure the group will effectively be bringing together four dealer group approved product lists (APLs) into one, a process that will involve a “significant” reduction in the products available on the new combined list over time, Milton explained.

“We’re bringing together four very different APLs where in total we started with more than 600 products. We have already halved that list and we are talking about further reducing that list,” she described.

“The focus will be on creating high conviction research around a very concentrated list of products,” Milton added.

Each of the research heads on the panel outlined their respective strategies for providing investment strategies and products to their networks of advisers in front of an attentive audience of researchers comprised of independent consultants, researchers within funds research houses and within other large and medium-sized licensee research teams.

IOOF’s Olsen talked about the process of bringing together the existing research functions of IOOF’s advice businesses with ANZ’s various advice brands; Centrepoint’s Herold described her team’s efforts to provide a broad array of offerings to meet the demands of the group’s growing advice network.

One comment on “AMPFP ends its mass-market MDA experiment”
  1. Avatar
    Ryan David Grant

    It’s interesting one of the criticisms of AFSLs is the APL restricting options, including the restriction around phrases like independent, yet the outcome of much of the regulator’s poking has been a narrowing of advice focus and offering, and product offerings.

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