Research providers are unquietly placed to bring objectivity, independence and rigor to the advice industry at critical time on its journey to professionalism. The foremost ethics and professional standards expert in the country lay out on the table what it means to be ethical in this quickfire Q&A.

Deen Sanders OAM, ethics and professionalism leader, governance, regulation and conduct, Deloitte.
MODERATOR: Matthew Smith, Conexus Financial

Key takeaways

  • The advice and research community should focus on being open and truthful about their business models, rather than trying to eliminate finite conflicts in areas such as fees according to Deen Sanders.
  • Sanders takes a more holistic approach than FASEA’s exhortation for advisers to not “advise, refer or act in any way” where a conflict exists. Rather than picking at perceived conflicts around remuneration, he intimated, the focus should be on eliminating misleading service provision.
  • Once you’ve got an ethical business model in place and ethical considerations are embedded into business processes, Sanders said, the issue of payment dissolves. “It disappears because that’s just a proxy people use to say ‘this is unethical, it smells fishy’,” he said.
  • The perspective Sanders takes with advisers also applies to the researchers and research houses who assess products and formulate APLs.
  • There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging de-risking as a product or service, Sanders said. Indeed, if it’s being done well, it’s incredibly valuable – and courageous.

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