The case for life insurance and previously grandfathered investment trail commissions will again be put to policymakers in Canberra with gusto, following the establishment of a populist alternative to the Joint Associations Working Group.

The Association of Independently Owned Financial Professionals and Finance Brokers Association of Australia have inked a “political and commercial strategic alliance”.

Its establishment is a response to JAWG which was set up to present a united front to government during the Quality of Advice Review consultation process and which AIOFP executive director Peter Johnston described as a “dismal failure” in a note to stakeholders on Tuesday. The JAWG consists of the Financial Advice Association, Boutique Financial Planners, SMSF Association, The Advisers Association, Licensee Leadership Forum, Financial Services Council, Stockbrokers and Investment Advisers Association Chartered Accountants ANZ, CPA Australia, Institute of Public Accountants and FINSIA.

FBAA managing director Peter White tells Professional Planner he has no beef with the JAWG, saying that is a matter for the advice profession, but adds he is attracted to the AIOFP alliance because he wants to cultivate a “deeper, stronger footprint” across financial services.

He says there is plenty of “alignment” between his organisation and the AIOFP, which have both presented themselves as anti-establishment groups representing privately owned and smaller providers and have not been afraid to give an occasional “upper cut” to other stakeholders.

“Often the small businessperson gets left out,” White says, pointing to the similar worldview of the two allies.

Keeping counsel

While they are yet to finalise a combined policy platform, the associations are expected to make joint submissions to public inquiries and private representations to MPs in Canberra, alongside a commercial referral arrangement. They will operate under the banner of the “Independent Financial Counsel” and hope to attract more industry bodies to their coalition.

Asked whether the business name was misspelt, Johnston says the term “counsel” was intentional as the alliance would hope to serve as a quasi-advisory body to government.

As for the protected and controversial term “independent”, Johnston suggested the successful registration of the business name with ASIC on Monday was a sign that regulator had no qualms with it. Under Greg Medcraft’s tenure as chair, ASIC previously cracked down on misuse of the terms ‘independent’, ‘independently-owned’, ‘non-institutional’ and ‘non-aligned’.