Stephen Jones (left), Alexis George and Renato Mota

The Quality of Advice Review, strained licensee business models and the departure of those licensee heads dominated the top stories on Professional Planner for 2023.

Before getting into the top 10, there were a few key stories that just missed out: the outcome of the AMP Buyers of Last Resort court case, Infocus’ “million-dollar solution” to the fee consent issue, and Iress’ advice efficiency report that found significant gains in practice revenue over the past couple of years.

  1. Govt QAR response confirms adviser concerns ‘have been heard’

In what was the most anticipated topic for advisers for the year – and arguably the most written about topic for the publication – the Government finally released its response to the Quality of Advice Review final report. The recommendations were grouped into three streams with half of Stream One put to draft legislation in November and further policy details outlined in December.

  1. Banned financial advisers exploiting legal loophole

When Professional Planner revealed in March that several banned advisers were still listed online, it exposed a legal loophole which showed the corporate regulator’s powers stop short of ordering that banned advisers stop promoting their professional services online.

  1. ‘It makes us Switzerland’: Iress divests platform business to remain neutral

After announcing its Connectivity Network to better integrate other third-party providers, Iress announced it would divest Managed Fund Administration and platform services in a bid to become a neutral player to help better integrate the industry’s various platform providers.

  1. Most super funds will be dragged to advice ‘kicking and screaming’

With funds in the spotlights over fees and costs to members, as well as the government and regulators being critical over fulfilling the Retirement Income Covenant obligations and member experience, Industry Fund Services executive manager for advice solutions Adrian Gervasoni noted the priority for funds to take on advice wasn’t as high as some of the cynics in the industry are expecting.

  1. Self-licensed advisers the ‘next failure’

“I would argue the next failure is in the individually licensed practices,” proclaimed CoreData Research founder Andrew Inwood, at the Professional Planner Licensee Summit. With a growing appetite for advice practices to go the self-licensed route, Inwood believes it’s not feasible for ASIC to effectively monitor for misconduct among a multitude of small licensees.

  1. Clime deal paves way for $8b Godfrey Pembroke-Madison tie-up

With Insignia Financial electing to offload controlling equity in its licensee businesses, as well as selling Millenium3 and Godfrey Pembroke, Clime Investment Management struck a non-binding agreement with Practice Development Group, the entity representing Godfrey Pembroke advisers, to form a new $8 billion alliance with the Madison licensee. At the time the story was published, Insignia retained 100 per cent of Godfrey Pembroke but maintained the plan was to return ownership to Godfrey Pembroke advisers.

  1. ‘Strong, honest friend’: UniSuper advisers hold fund to account

In a year that will see hefty advice obligations (or opportunities depending on how you perceive it) handed to super funds, former MLC Advice CEO Andrew Gregory, now head of advice at UniSuper, has already been tasked with turning into the fund into the “home for advice professionals”.

  1. AMP considers ‘radical’ licensee shake-up

After Insignia announced a major shake-up of its licensee business, AMP chief executive Alexis George’s told Professional Planner the wealth giant may pursue a similar strategy but has remained committed to holding onto its licensee businesses until it can drive them to financial health.

  1. Mota leaves a leadership vacuum in institutional advice

Five years in the top job at Insignia which oversaw the conclusion of the Hayne royal commission and the re-brand from IOOF, Renato Mota couldn’t overcome the loss of shareholder value. As has been the case with peers appointed to the same role at AMP, Mota was given the unenviable job of re-building an embattled wealth giant.

  1. Tributes flow for advice veteran Tony Bongiorno

The tragic passing of Tony Bongiorno, one of the founding fathers of the advice profession, shocked the industry, with many paying tribute to a man who contributed much to development of the profession in a career spanning more than five decades.