Jodie Blackledge

With the end of the AFSL system on the table, Fitzpatricks Private Wealth is apathetic towards a move into individual licensing due to the confidence it has in its strategic partner offering.

Fitzpatricks chief executive Jodie Blackledge tells Professional Planner the firm has been on the journey to being a service only provider for a long time.

“You never set up a licensee business for the sake of being a licensee business. It was never set up to be a licensee for hire, it was always part of an advice proposition.”

While it is currently only a potential change and not something the ALRC has committed to recommending, the removal of Chapter 7 from the Corporations Act could be a prompt for individual licensing.

“There’s a new opportunity for us to position our business in a much more professional market and to operate slightly differently from others in that it’s around partnering with advisers who have shared that vision for advice,” Blackledge says.

For this reason, Blackledge says the firm is “indifferent” to what happens on the licensee side.

“As long as its effective and efficient for advisers to operate the model. That will see us be different from some of the other providers who are moving towards more of a pick and pay model. We have equity partners where we have an interest in the firm and strategic partners where we don’t have any financial interest in their firms.”

The Financial Planning Association has advocated for the removal of the AFSL system which has been included in its submission to the Quality of Advice Review.

However, the issue has garnered some blowback from the industry with some arguing it isn’t a priority issue and the Stockbrokers and Investment Adviser Association stating it doesn’t work for their sector.

“Our model has been if you’re operating a Fitzpatricks branded business, delivering quality advice for those clients and operating in the segment that we specialise in, the more complex clients then we’re happy to play that role as an equity partner which can be around facilitating succession, bringing in new talent or growth [via acquisitions],” Blackledge says.

Scale to develop talent

Despite the large institutions having got out of the game, Blackledge says the sector will gain more competency within businesses as practices get larger with scale.

“The opportunity for those that choose to partner with these practices is bridging that gap where they don’t have the capability and that can be if a business is smaller – say $2 million in revenue with aspiration to get to $10 million in revenue – then there’s certain things they might not be able to afford at that time.”

One of the other services Fitzpatricks provides, which it believes will help continue to differentiate it from other licensees is its Lead Adviser program to help advisers develop skills and EQ that helps deeper understanding of client relationships.

“The Lead Adviser program has been running over 20 years and in many ways the program hasn’t changed.”