MLC CEO Geoff Lloyd has thrown a challenge out to dealer groups around the country to follow his lead by giving advisers amnesty on their licensee fees as the cononavirus crisis situation and recent policy changes continue to buffet practices.

On Tuesday Lloyd announced MLC will waive 100 per cent of all licensee fees for three months starting on April 1, followed by three months of a 50 per cent discount on licensee fees for advisers within the group. He made the announcement during the Investment Magazine & Professional Planner Retirement Conference live event stream. Readers with digital delegate access can view content and earn CPD points from the event here.

“One thing we can do that’s in our control is to take the pressure off fees, and we encourage every dealer group out there to think about doing the same thing,” Lloyd said in conversation with Conexus Financial CEO Colin Tate during one of the opening sessions of the Retirement Conference.

Lloyd also simultaneously announced to MLC’s advice network on Tuesday morning the group would extend fixed-term advice agreement transitions by three months and also delay commencement of planned transitions of Apogee and Meritum advisers to Godfrey Pembroke in an attempt to cut advisers some slack.

“We are a large business and the planners out there servicing clients are in small businesses, dealing with difficult and different challenges every day,” Lloyd said.

“We hope that announcement take pressure off fees for the next 6 months,” he added.

Lloyd’s announcement was lauded by FPA chief executive Dante De Gori, who said MLC’s move could lead to more licensees and institutions providing support to advisers at this challenging time. De Gori made this observation during a subsequent session in which he discussed the government and industry response to the coronavirus crisis situation alongside Willis Towers Watson head of retirement solutions, Nick Callil.

Crisis times, crisis measures

MLC’s Lloyd discussed his own personal and professional experiences as the crisis has unfolded, which included working from his home in isolation in Sydney following his daughter’s minor surgery, coordinating remote working with leadership teams and staff, as well as providing insight into discussions with government during crisis meetings as part of his role as chair of the Financial Services Council.

‘Direct’, ‘open’, ‘specific’ and ‘bipartisan’ were adjectives Lloyd used to characterise the discussions he was exposed to when government engaged industry, which resulted in unprecedented stimulus pandemic measures including changes to the draw down minimum and early access to super for individuals in distress.

While it’s unclear whether advisers can expect further support from the government in the form of reprieves from new legislative requirements set to be introduced, Lloyd implored advisers to stay positive about the changes ahead.

In the session preceding Lloyd’s to open the Retirement Conference, assistant financial services minister Jane Hume was reluctant to give specific guidance on whether the government would pause implementation of legislation mapped out under the post-royal commission road map.

“We heard the legislative agenda can’t be changes, but there is a lot we can do,” Lloyd said.

“Things can change for the better. We should use this crisis to make long-term change,” he said.