Leah Sciacca (left), Shail Singh (second from left), and John Mennen (right)

Despite their gargantuan status in financial services, gaining remediation for wronged clients of the big banks has been an easier process than getting the smaller players to pay up, according to a class action lawyer.

Speaking at the Professional Planner Licensee Summit, Maurice Blackburn principal lawyer Josh Mennen said dealing with large licensees like the banks was more straightforward than with smaller licensees.

“It’s simpler when it’s a bank because you know they’re not going anywhere and you know they have a reputation to uphold and protect and they are going to engage with you fairly commercially,” Mennen said.

“With smaller operators, a big issue has been recoverability. A lot of the time it’s been too late and the operators are no longer in existence, and then you get into discussions about compensation schemes of last resort.”

Mennen made his point during the same week the Compensation Scheme of Last Resort passed the Parliament.

Despite his line of work, Mennen made it clear the remediation and wrongdoing doesn’t fairly reflect the broader advice industry.

“It’s easy for me as a lawyer to sit here and make criticisms of the way in which advisers or advice models have conducted themselves,” Mennen said.

“I appreciate that you have put together viable business models and you have to serve Australians and provide them with financial advice that supports them. As lawyers, we don’t see the positive transformative effects that you have, we see the negative impacts of the bad behaviour when it occurs.”

Mennen said Maurice Blackburn’s focus has changed drastically over the past 10 to 15 years and the law firm has moved on from the widespread issues with bank-led advice networks to underinsurance issues.

“Now when a client walks through the door who has suffered losses, it’s more likely to be a risk-based issue,” Mennen said.