Technology improvements, dealing with the Quality of Advice Review reforms and self-licencing appear to be high on planning practices’ agendas as the profession enters 2024.

Sydney-based WealthPartners practice principal Andrew Heaven intends to start 2024 afresh, focusing on the future and not the legacies of the past.

Recruiting good people to join his team is high on his agenda. “We also want to embed the efficiency gains we’ve made in adopting new technology to reduce the cost of providing advice,” he tells Professional Planner.

“Plus, we want to embrace the opportunity that the QAR reforms will provide to further reduce the costs and hopefully simplify the advice process to make advice more accessible and affordable to more clients.”

Heaven, however, expects adapting to and adopting the QAR reforms will be a challenge. Another will be explaining the difference between a licensed financial adviser who has undergone all the tertiary education and training to be recognised to provide advice and the new proposed class of ‘qualified adviser’.

Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones announced the full suite of QAR reforms last year, part of what the Government has dubbed the Delivering Better Financial Outcomes package, which included the term “qualified advisers” being applied to a new class of advisers that will have lower qualifications that holistic advisers.

“How on earth is anyone meant to understand the difference? It’s asking for trouble,” he says.

Eugene Ardino, CEO of privately-owned AFSL Lifespan Financial Planning, is also disappointed the QAR reforms are taking longer than he would have hoped to be legislated.

“From a compliance and governance perspective, Lifespan will continue to work closely with advisers to support ways to make the advice process more efficient,” he says.

“We believe next year should see continued growth in Professional Year candidates, which we will continue supporting through our professional development programs.”

Ardino believes the continued lack of certainty in terms of the QAR reforms will loom large in 2024.

“Clarification of the ‘qualified adviser’ proposition and the provisions around super funds and institutions offering advice services will be observed closely,” Ardino says.

“Removing safe harbour in the best interest duty is a start, and we hope there will be more clarity regarding the new SOA [Statement of Advice] requirements, as this will no doubt impact our advisers’ ability to deliver quality advice with greater clarity and understanding for clients.”

Solo journeys