Michelle Levy and Stephen Jones at the QAR Roadshow in March 2023.

Quality of Advice Review lead Michelle Levy has dismissed the notion there is any tension between her and the government, with a response on the reviews’ proposals expected in the coming days.

Speaking at the Stockbrokers and Investment Adviser Association in Sydney on Wednesday morning, Levy refuted any suggestion her recent op-ed in the Australian Financial Review was directed at the government.

“I’ve given my report to the government to respond, and they haven’t,” Levy said. “There is no conflict. That article to the AFR was frustration with Choice, not anything else.”

At the Professional Planner Quality of Advice Review Roadshow in March, Jones said the government would respond after the budget was completed and has since updated the profession that a response is expected in the coming days.

Choice has been one of the most critical voices against the review’s proposals, with CEO Alan Kirkland describing the reforms as a “recipe for another royal commission”.

“It does worry me, especially in the lack of detail in what I hear from a lot of opposition to this,” Levy said.

“There’s a profound misunderstanding and no matter how many times I say it, I don’t seem to be able persuade people that when we talk about financial advice, it’s such a broad spectrum of things that are being touched on.”

Establishing relevancy

A key point of contention is Levy’s proposals for non-relevant providers giving advice on behalf of a relevant provider.

In Levy’s proposal, the non-relevant provider can give the advice, but it is a relevant provider who is charging a fee and held accountable under the law.

Levy said in her mind she was viewing the implications through the lens of what a digital advice provider could provide, as well as the fact “call centre” operators are likely to be working off a script or via internal protocols laid out by the relevant provider rather than using their own professional judgement.

“It’s not going to be call centre operators [giving advice],” Levy said. “It was in my mind that advice will be given digitally.”

Levy added the conversation about relevant providers is almost going to be “sidelined” because more advice will be given digitally or by an institution.

“That advice that doesn’t have to be given by a relevant provider because that’s the law at the moment,” Levy said.