Actuaries Institute president Naomi Edwards (left) with Levy

Redesigning a regulatory framework for a professional service was always going to generate polarising feedback, but Quality of Advice Review lead Michelle Levy has conceded she has struggled to convince the consumer groups of the merits of her proposals.

The government released Levy’s proposals last week which saw positive feedback from the advice profession and auxiliary industries, but a negative reaction from consumer groups.

Financial services minister Stephen Jones has opted to take the proposals to a consultation and Professional Planner will host in the minister in March which includes an industry Q&A.

Speaking at the Actuaries Institute advice seminar on Wednesday evening, Levy disputed the claims she is winding back consumer safeguards for advice.

“I haven’t recommended the winding back or dismantling of FOFA and it’s one of the foundations upon which the recommendations sit,” Levy said.

“As hard as I’ve tried, I’ve not been able to persuade Choice and consumer representatives that the recommendations are, in fact, good for consumers.”

She pointed to commentary specifically from Choice CEO Alan Kirkland that her proposals would lead to another royal commission.

“Choice paints a truly terrifying picture of radical and untested changes that will be a disaster,” she said.

“It’s hard to read these words in Choice’s media release as anything but heavy handed. They’ve omitted a lot of the arguments and reasoning in the report.”

Levy specified that her proposals are a way to refine the regulatory framework to make it simpler by removing overlapping rules.

“I am struggling to understand what it is I’m undoing… I disagree with the argument it is removing protections, but I agree that’s how the media and people are seeing it.”

Regarding criticism of the purpose of the review, she reiterated it was specifically designed to be a review into the regulatory framework applied to the provision of financial product advice.

“It wasn’t a review into financial advice, by financial advisers, although that formed part of it,” Levy said.

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