After years of calls for a unified voice in the industry, the Quality of Advice Review might be that catalyst with licensee groups and industry associations banding together to highlight the areas they agree on ahead of the deadline for submissions.

There are two different joint submissions expected: one from a group of licensees and another from a coalition of the major association groups and licensee groups.

Professional Planner understands a subset of a broader Licensee Forum group started by Credas Solutions principal Tim Steele with 50 to 60 members in it is putting together a submission for the advice review.

The group represents 17 per cent of advisers across the market and 24 per cent of advised clients.

The association joint submission includes the Financial Planning Association, the Association of Financial Advisers, the SMSF Association, CPA Australia, CA ANZ, the Institute of Public Accountants and the Stockbrokers and Investment Advisers Association.

FPA chief executive Sarah Abood says the advantage of the joint submission is to show off the consensus on the agrees everyone agrees on because the review has become so complex.

“That submission has got 83 questions in it. We want to show the government and the regulator that we agree on a lot and that’s what the joint submission will be about.”

AFA CEO Phil Anderson says there is an extension on the joint submissions, but the timeframe is limited.

“We need to get this done by the end of next week [10 June].”

Key objectives

Anderson says some of the key objectives in the joint submission will be recommendations on reducing complexity, costs, and achieving more client-centric outcomes.

“Removing regulatory uncertainty is one of the key things on the list and making the client experience more positive.”

Safe harbour is another key item associations and licensees agree on and while new financial services minister Stephen Jones expressed disinterest in removing it the industry has confidence he will listen on the issue.

“Whether it goes or whether there’s another solution to achieve better regulatory certainty around compliance for best interest duty is absolutely a priority,” Anderson says.

Anderson previously suggested other options to simplify best interests duty for advisers and he’s not alone in making suggestions.

“What we have in terms of the best interest duty/safe harbour – what we’ve got to look at is tied up in this broader concept of whether we want a principles-based rules regime or whether there’s a sensible balancing point somewhere in between,” Anderson says.

Not the first time their powers combined

The major associations previously joined together along with consumer groups during the Compensation Scheme of Last Resort proceedings with the aim of adding managed investment schemes to the scheme.

At the time the goal had been unsuccessful with the Coalition, led by then financial services minister Jane Hume, being unsupportive of an expanded CSLR.

“It’s actually about helping victims of bad financial advice which has then gone through an AFCA determination and AFCA then found out the adviser had closed up shop and flown off to Mallorca,” Hume said in April.

However, Labor have been open to include MISs and with the bill stalled before the election the opportunity has arisen for its addition.

Calls for a unified voice in the industry amid a shrinking adviser base have led to discussions about potential mergers between the associations.

“To say there’s going to be only one voice is I think quite a difficult task,” former FPA chief executive Dante De Gori said at the Professional Planner Licensee Summit last year. “There’s always going to be differences and nuances in terms of what each of us all need and want.”

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