In another pandemic-infused calender year, the advice industry took another evolutionary leap.

Adviser numbers dwindled as demand for advice surged and client books swelled. Noting the demand, policymakers and regulators switched their stance from prohibitive to accomodative (in theory, at least). The banks completed their exit while mid-tiers advice groups surged, buoyed by sharpened business models, client demand and bursts of capital from private investment groups.

Through it all, as ever, advisers kept their focus on clients while navigating increased education standards, somewhat conflicting regulatory requirements and a barrage of compliance upheavals. In a period when their consumers needed guidance most, they delivered.

The stories that delivered for Professional Planner readers fit a similar profile as most years; industry news and analysis, regulatory and compliance breakdowns and specific issue-focussed peices have always been our most wideley read articles.

Here are the top ten for 2021. We look forward to delivering for you in the new year.


1. AMP turns to practice mergers as takeover looms

AMP is reportedly more interested in consolidating small practices for scale than making them profitable, which could make it more attractive to potential buyers.


2. AMP Wealth’s survival chances: Advice execs weigh in

The majority of advice executives from a cross section of the industry believe AMP’s wealth arm is beyond help, but not all. “They have the scale to come out successful but it’s not going to be the way it looks today,” one said. “I don’t think you can say they won’t right the ship.”

3. Licensee owners list 2021: Licensees in motion

Look past the gaudy exodus numbers and it becomes clear a new shape to the advice industry is emerging. Existing models are being upended, regulatory boundaries are being redrawn and the very purpose of licensing is being reimagined. Amidst the fragmentation, a new crop of licensees are emerging that are unencumbered by the past and looking to the future.

4. Check SoAs as well as consent forms, regulators tell trustees

Trustees have been advised by ASIC and APRA that fee consent forms aren’t enough; they should be checking advice SoAs to ensure services are being provided. The heightened level of trustee oversight has experts concerned about privacy and process issues.

5. ASIC trims double handling with amended fee consent rules

The corporate regulator made several important changes to its fee consent and independence disclosure legislation, released today, in response to 22 industry submissions.

6. ‘It’s just too hard to stay in the insurance advice business’

As the planner exodus continues, Professional Planner talks to Jeremy Wright, a 59-year old insurance adviser set to abandon his ASIC registration on January 1, 2021. “This is like a bloody communist state,” he says.

7. AMP’s Hartley discusses future business model with advisers

The new AMP Australia CEO wasted no time meeting with his adviser cohort to discuss the way forward, with changing business models and competitive products high on the agenda.

8. Top end of licensee list dwindles as AMP FP knocked off perch

The fall-off from AMP’s flagship licensee was expected, but it also highlights a stark trend; the big end of town is being levelled at a rapid rate and not even IOOF’s acquisitive position will restore the dynamic.

9. the rise of the financial advice super firm

There’s the Big Four in professional services followed by a healthy number of formidable mid-tier players. The next decade will see the emergence of large, mid-tier advice firms too, Paul Barrett writes.

10. 65K advice support staff like ‘pink unicorns’, recruiters say

Advice recruiters say the days of paying support staff peanuts are over. For successful, busy advisers who need client service managers that know their way around Xplan and can implement an SoA the going rate is now $80K and up. “Support staff aren’t just traditional administrators any more,” says Profusion’s Kimberley Wenn.

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