The Association of Financial Advisers’ newly appointed CEO Phil Anderson says taking on the top job will allow him to extend the line of policy work he’s been active in promoting over the last few years, but with a more direct line to policy makers.

It’s not the first time Anderson has taken on the chief executive role at the AFA; he served as acting CEO for six months before Helen Morgan-Banda took the reigns in August last year. When Morgan-Banda announced her resignation last week, citing a desire to be closer to family in New Zealand during the pandemic’s recent surge, the board decided to make Anderson’s appointment as CEO a permanent one.

With a clear future, the industry veteran is looking forward to pushing the association’s agenda on a new level.

“This gives me broader responsibility so I need to be actively involved in the day-to-day management of the organisation,” he tells Professional Planner. “From an advocacy perspective this allows me to continue to pursue what I’ve been focused on in recent years but to engage in those advocacy discussions at a senior level and with a broader range of stakeholders.”

The policy agenda for the AFA in 2022 remains centred on the needs of advisers, he explains, and will manifest itself in things like a submission to the upcoming Quality of Advice Review and a response to the Australian Law Reform Commission’s first interim report, published in November last year.

“Both of those are important in helping us as a profession design a model that works to protect consumers as well as allowing advisers to be efficient and vibrant,” he notes.

Anderson says the AFA is “most definitely” keen to continue its growing line of collaboration with the Financial Planning Association, with both groups increasingly willing to put idealogical differences aside and go to policymakers with a unified front on key issues.

The FPA is gearing up for its own leadership shuffle, with new CEO (and ex-Profile Financial Services boss) Sarah Abood set to take over from long-standing CEO Dante De Gori from the 17th of January.

“We know Dante very well and and we’ve worked with the FPA for a number of years,” Anderson says. “We’re looking forward to working with Sarah and (FPA chair) Marissa Broome.”

According to a release from the AFA, the resignation of Morgan-Banda is directly linked to challenges posed by the recent surge in Covid-19 cases. Citing “uncertainty surrounding access to New Zealand and between states in Australia”, Morgan-Banda is expected to relocate in order to be closer to family.

AFA president Sam Perera says the AFA will enter 2022 with a “clear strategy” and a “hard working” team.

“We will strengthen our voice in advocating for policy settings that support vibrant and thriving financial advice practices,” he comments. “We are intent on bringing our communities back together to network, share and socialise in fun and safe environments around the country.”