From left: Simon Hoyle, Michael Wright, Adrian Gervasoni, and Sarah Abood

With the number of advisers in Australia dwindling, the industry needs to act swiftly to get more new entrants and overseas presents an opportunity, according to Financial Advice Association CEO Sarah Abood.

“We look far ahead and we don’t see the numbers of people that were being incubated by the big six in the past,” Abood said at the Professional Planner Licensee Summit.

“We must solve that; it is an urgent problem or we will become irrelevant. We will become a service only for the wealthy and I don’t think many of us would find that to be a satisfying outcome.”

According to the latest figures from WealthData, the number of advisers on the ASIC Financial Adviser Register are 15,735, which is almost half of the roughly 28,000 planners who were on the FAR at the end of the Hayne Royal Commission.

Abood said there was three groups to access for talent: high schoolers; career changers; and people living overseas.

“There are [many] fully qualified financial advisers who would love the opportunity to come and live and work in Australia,” she said.

“Right now, [studying] financial advice at tertiary level is not a pathway that leads to permanent residency. We’d like to change that.”

She also suggested establishing a corporate not-for-profit structure that administers scholarships and internships.

“It [should also support] the rotation of professional year candidates through a range of different providers, such as super funds, insurers, platforms, comprehensive life insurance practices,” she said.

“That is a way of minimising the risk that any one practice is investing a full year in one person and then potentially losing them. It [will] also ensure people who are coming into our profession have a good grounding across the different ways that you need to operate.”

Abood announced at the United Association Roadshow in Hobart in May that the FAAA wants to work to add to the current 15,865 registered advisers.

Taking the lead

Lonsec CEO Michael Wright, who had returned overseas from visits in the US and UK, said the Australian wealth market is in a position to lead.

“I really sense that we’ve got this sense of hope that we can bust through and really start to deliver more advice to more Australians,” Wright said.