David Sharpe (left), Phil Anderson, Sarah Abood and Sam Perera

Members of the Financial Planning Association and the Association of Financial Advisers have given their respective boards the green light to create the most significant financial advice representative body that the profession has ever seen.

More than 96 per cent of around 2900 members of the two associations voted in favour of merging the organisations to form the Financial Advice Association of Australia.

Despite the hefty 75 per cent threshold required to approve the merger, across all resolutions, an average of 96.5 per cent of AFA votes and 96.7 per cent of FPA votes were in favour.

The merger is expected to be legally completed by 3 April 2023, with a transition period running until 1 July to allow for adoption of the new name and constitution, finalising and launching a new brand and logo, forming the new board, and transitioning members to the new association.

With an expected membership of around 13,000 – subject to all members renewing their memberships in coming months – the association will represent a greater proportion of the advice profession than any other single organisation, and its position as an advocate with consumers and policymakers will be unparalleled.

When it speaks to Canberra, it will be heard, and as the pre-eminent financial advice body it will play a leading role in promoting the benefits of advice to the Australian public. The merger comes at a time the industry is being consulted on the Quality of Advice Review proposals.

The initial announcement of the merger laid out the executive structure of the board and executive team, with FPA chief executive Sarah Abood leading the new association and AFA chief Phil Anderson taking a new role as general manager of transition.

The merged association will have 12 directors, made up of four from the AFA and eight from the FPA. Elections in November this year will see three of the eight directors either replaced or re-elected. Apart from these elections, the initial board will remain in place for three years.

Abood said a high priority of the new association will be advocacy, focused initially on the Quality of Advice Review.

But the new association will also be focused on adviser education standards.

FPA chair David Sharpe noted that even though both associations had worked to get the merger over the line, the real hard work begins now. There’s much more to creating a new advice body than coming up with a new name and commissioning a new logo.

“We worked bloody hard,” Sharpe said during a media briefing on Tuesday afternoon.

AFA president Sam Perera said the newly created association would be running national roadshow in May as a demonstration to all members of the two associations coming together. He said the successful vote had come at “a crucial turning point” for the advice industry, and the association would be a “strong, united voice” in representing advisers.

A broad-based representative organisation faces its own challenges. With members representing such a broad cross-section of the advice community, there will inevitably be matters on which its membership is divided.