Advice practices that have strong record-keeping processes in place will thrive in a post-Statement of Advice environment, with the lengthy advice documents already not the most important piece of evidence in the dispute resolution process.

Quality of Advice Review lead Michelle Levy’s final proposals were released on Wednesday morning which re-affirmed her suggestion to eliminate the current legislative framework around creating SOAs.

Levy suggested replacing the prescriptive best interests and safe harbour steps with a principles-based ‘good advice’ regime, essentially providing the same outcome without the extensive compliance steps required.

However, advisers will still be required to present a written record of the advice given to clients, on demand.

With limited time to digest Levy’s recommendations, the Professional Planner Advice Practitioner Summit hosted a panel discussing the future of best interests duty around two hours after the proposals were made public.

Noting Levy’s recommendation that professionals will still be required to give advisers written documents on request, Centrepoint licensee general manager Allison Dummett said she’d prefer to see these documents reflect client conversations.

“I would like to see documents evolve to the stage where they’re a lot more like the conversations you have with the client,” Dummett said.

“Because I’ve never seen a situation where a phrase missing or present in a document is what a matter hinged on.”

She added that licensees have noticed an improvement of the quality of provided in the time best interests duty and the code of ethics have existed.

From the perspective of the complaints authority, AFCA advice ombudsman Shail Singh said the dispute process will always come down to evidence that proved the adviser gave proper advice that is free of any conflicted interests.

“If something goes wrong how do you demonstrate that you’ve satisfied your professional obligations?” Singh said.

Financial services minister Stephen Jones will consult on all of Levy’s recommendations during the coming months and Professional Planner will host the minister in March during the consultation process in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

SOAs were never the saviour

Under the current regulatory framework, Singh said following the objectives laid out by the client is important and that long SOAs do not add any assurance on the quality on the advice given.