Senator Jane Hume has committed to unwinding red tape in the advice landscape and revealed that Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, minister for deregulation Ben Morton and her own department are working closely with ASIC, industry bodies and advisers to “unravel the Gordian know that financial advice has become”.
The assistant minister for superannuation, financial services and financial technology said Morton is “quite focused on this area specifically” and the Treasurer was “now turning his attention” to regulatory reform.
“This has been quite a tortuous journey for advisers,” Hume acknowledged on an webinar discussion with Financial Services Council CEO, Sally Loane.
“We want to identify obstacles to productivity and profitability, and we want to reduce the burden on your industry and its participants,” Hume said. “And it’s not just because you’re noisy, although you are a very, very strong and vocal group.”
Working to make the lives of advisers easier helps the government, too, Hume explained.
“I’m not ashamed to say the government has a vested interest – I hate using those words – in ensuring that you can provide financial advice to as many Australians as possible without being tied up in red tape.”
The senator paid homage to the “hundreds and hundreds” of financial advisers and brokers she personally met with since taking office in May 2019.
“I want you to know that everything you say has been taken on board,” she said. “Your messages are very consistent and I’m working right now to address the biggest of those concerns.”
Hume has made a point of attending industry events and identifying with the struggles of advisers. She recounted her relationship with her own adviser, joking that despite her own role, she was the ultimate “plumber’s pipes are always rusty” client. “But I always walk away feeling a sense of control,” she added.
She also reiterated a commitment made last week at the AFA’s annual conference to have the government’s single disciplinary body committee and the compensation of last resort scheme on the table by the middle of next year. “The reforms are working their way through the system,” she said.
‘A collective will’
The minister made a point of acknowledging efforts made by the industry bodies to come together on policy and present a united voice to government, noting that it makes “an enormous difference”.
“We are now beginning to see it, even now just in the last two year alone, the fact that the industry is beginning to speak with one voice,” Hume said.
“It is a fragmented industry – you’ve got advisers that have the FPA, the AFA, you’ve got insurance advisers there… trying to get everybody on the same page has actually been quite difficult but I tip my hat to the industry,” she said.
The government isn’t being put in a position where it has to avoid playing favourites with any representative bodies, Hume explained, which meant they were able to focus on improving the industry.
“That’s one of the reasons why we have been able to make some significant progress in the direction of financial advice,” she said. “We’re getting much better alignment now of not just objectives but I suppose there’s a collective will out there from regulators, industry bodies and from advisers themselves.”