Sarah Abood

Members of the united association have made their views clear – they want the Financial Advice Association to put advocacy at the forefront of its priorities.

Ahead of the first stop on the United Association Roadshow in Hobart on 5 May, FAAA chief executive Sarah Abood tells Professional Planner member feedback suggested enhancing advocacy to Canberra.

“For existing members, what they say to me really directly is that they want to be a member because they want to have a voice in the future of the profession,” Abood says.

“They expect the FAAA to be doing that and taking the united voice clearly to Canberra and the regulators in order to be an effective, efficient profession that delivers for consumers.”

The association is currently focusing on the Quality of Advice Review proposals and the experience pathway. On the advice review, Abood differed slightly to what was suggested by the Joint Association Working Group open letter which supported all the QAR proposals.

“[The QAR] is something that doesn’t have unqualified support,” Abood says.

“We’re supportive of the package and the principle – that advice can be extended more broadly – however, we do think to work that proposal is going to need some guardrails. We don’t support it being pushed through with no guidance and with product issuers whomever they like with whatever qualifications they like.”

Abood’s mention of guardrails echoes comments made previously by JAWG co-member, The Advisers Association CEO Neil Macdonald, who argued further safeguards were needed for the QAR proposals to succeed.

“While we broadly support the Quality of Advice Review recommendations, we believe great care must be taken before implementing some of them, or we may face a back-to-the-future scenario that did not serve Australians well,” Macdonald wrote in a media release earlier this month.

Surveying for consensus

Likewise, the FAAA has accepted the experience pathway will happen but plans to seek member feedback during the consult process.

“We’re going to survey our members again,” Abood says. “We initially surveyed them when the proposal was put out and there’s no doubt there’s a lot of different viewpoints in our membership about the proposal.”

The experience pathway has become one of the most polarising issues within financial advice and Abood says there has been a lot of feedback via various channels from members who feel strongly on both sides of the debate.

“We want to get a temperature check for all our members and ensure all our members have an opportunity to be heard,” she adds.