George John (left) and Phil Anderson speaking at FAAA Congress (credit Adam Hollingworth).

Despite a recent focus on advocacy, consultation on the Financial Advice Association’s policy platform has highlighted the ongoing professionalism of financial advice as a priority, according to the latest FAAA member feedback.

After the merger between the Financial Planning Association and Association of Financial Advisers, the FAAA announced it would prioritise advocacy following member feedback.

But amidst canvassing member views for the policy platform through to 2030, FAAA government relations senior manager George John said it was a surprise that professionalism was considered the highest priority.

“One of the categories that we hadn’t even thought about was the ongoing professionalisation of financial advice and how do we make sure that the adviser that you hire in the year 2030 is better than the adviser a client would go into today,” John said during day two of FAAA Congress in Adelaide.

“Already out of those consultations and out of the survey we know a few things. We know for members…professionalism is their highest priority. The conversations that we’re having preface the idea that any adviser you go to should be the best adviser fit for you.”

Consultation commenced in early October and John said members have been direct about what they want from the association and the broad range of topics covered has been “astounding”.

“That’s why we thought we would walk away with probably about 17 different initiatives to focus on and we came up with 39,” John said. “We were shocked about where some of our blind spots had been.”

Juggling priorities

While professionalism may begin regaining some attention, advocacy remains a priority, with John and FAAA head of policy Phil Anderson updating members on the association’s advocacy work.

The association remained confident in the government’s approach to the Quality of Advice Review reforms, despite concerns action isn’t taken fast enough.

Simplified Statements of Advice and the removal of safe harbour steps were left out of the first QAR draft legislation, released last week by the government.

Anderson pointed to the Future of Financial Advice reforms, which didn’t see legislation introduced until 2013 despite the Ripoll report being handed down in 2009.

“A lot of people get really frustrated with how slowly things move and I always give an example of how legislative reform in the past does not happen overnight,” Anderson said.

Jones said consultation on SOAs and safe harbour was complete during last weeks draft legislation announcement and a further announcement was due after it passed cabinet approval.