Stephen Jones

The government response to the Quality of Advice Review will eliminate redundant layers of regulations, but the Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones believes more will need to be done beyond the review’s proposals and experience pathway to fix accessibility.

Speaking at the Brisbane breakfast of the QAR roadshow, hosted by Conexus Financial in partnership with Allianz Retire+, Jones said he wants at least some of the policies to be put in motion in 2023.

As noted at the Sydney breakfast on Monday morning, Jones aims to make some progress outside of the legislative process, but has asked the profession for patience as any move that requires legislative change will take time to go through the Parliament.

“I am absolutely committed to ensuring we pick and run with the recommendations of Michelle Levy’s important review, in addition to a bunch of other things we have running in the sector,” Jones said, although there is no intention to implement Levy’s proposals which were released last month in full.

“To the advisers in this room I give this commitment: I want to make sure this year of action and completion on a whole bunch of stuff which is making your job harder to do.”

In addition to expressing interest in reforming the Statement of Advice process, which was noted on Monday, Jones hinted at acceptance of Levy’s proposal to simplify fee consent disclosure requirements, as well as removing the safe harbour steps.

“A whole bunch of other stuff that is driving you as professional planners nuts, whether it’s the multiple authorisations that you have to receive depending on your origin of where an income stream comes from when you’re signing up and renewing somebody that’s receiving personal advice,” Jones said.

“There’s some no brainers we have to move onto there, so my commitment is that we move on those things.”

Looking at safe harbour “as a lawyer,” Jones said safe harbour isn’t working as intended.

“It’s just morphed into a tick-a-box, form-filling procedural exercise – the people it’s supposed to protect, don’t want it,” Jones said.

Poker face

Conexus Financial founder Colin Tate, who has been hosting the Q&A sessions, made his prediction on what Jones is thinking based on two of the three days of interactions with the Minister.

“My read on that – and Stephen is probably not going to want to agree or comment – is that best interest duty will remain, there will be new flexibilities for super funds… for simple [advice] and guidance on the mass end, but there will be some new rules to make digital [advice] more possible and deliverable,” Tate said.

Jones has avoided making any firm commitments as he would like to continue the consultation process throughout the industry in the coming months, as well as gaining confirmation from cabinet.