Sue Viskovic

The lack of qualified advisers in the near term means the industry is left with the challenge of lifting the capacity of advisers to handle more clients according to a panel.

Speaking at the Professional Planner Licensee Summit in Katoomba earlier this month, Elixir Consulting managing director Sue Viskovic said the lack of new talent in the industry means existing advisers need to service more clients.

“I see this as a huge challenge for the advice profession, to lift the capacity of advisers. Advisers are saying they can handle 80 to 100 clients per adviser – that’s just not going to cut it.”

She said six-month waitlists for clients to see an adviser are becoming commonplace.

“We know we’re not replacing enough advisers and that problem is only going to get worse before it gets better.”

Last November, Iress released the inaugural Advice Efficiency Survey which found an average of 133 clients per adviser.

In March, former financial services minister Jane Hume acknowledged the thin pipeline of new advisers which she described as ‘simply not enough’.

However, two months earlier she stated it was not necessary to “stem the bleeding any further” for adviser departures.

“The real question is how do we make sure we can bring that next cohort through, so we have a dynamic industry that is replenishing itself,” Hume said in January. “There’s a mass exodus of people leaving the industry and we always knew there were going to be people leaving the industry.”

Numbers game

When it came to how many advisers are needed for a practice to get the benefit of scale, Viskovic said it was likely less than expected.

“I’m not sure that 10 is the perfect number because I’ve seen firms that have five to six [advisers] and they’ve got a practice manager two to three days a week, so it doesn’t have to be full-time.”

Three to four years ago, Viskovic said, it was possible to build a profitable boutique business with only one or two advisers.

“We’re not seeing that so much anymore. In order to free up time to think, plan and change a one or two adviser practice is full to the brim with just doing client work. We’re seeing the move around scale.”