Asked whether he is satisfied with his tenure as chief executive of Insignia Financial, Renato Mota is sanguine.  

“I’m leading an organisation that’s been around over 170 years and my job simply is to leave it in better state, acknowledging that the job is never done,” Mota tells Professional Planner. “Whether I was leaving yesterday, today or tomorrow, there is always more work to be done. So, I don’t leave with a sense of regret.” 

Next Thursday, Mota will depart the organisation he helped establish through the mega-mergers of IOOF, ANZ Wealth and MLC Wealth, which formed the nation’s largest provider of financial advice and gave two major banks a much-needed exit strategy from their failed wealth management foray. 

Looking back, he says the two monster acquisitions were “absolutely the right thing to do”, giving the then-IOOF the scale to be sustainable as it sought to repair its reputation following the damning Hayne royal commission.  

Mota is expected to spend several months travelling with his family, before even considering his next move in financial services, corporate Australia or elsewhere.

But as he hands the reins to former AMP Australia and Sunsuper boss Scott Hartley, he urges his successor to continue trying to build a mass-market business-to-consumer advice model suitable for regular working Australians – an objective Mota had set for himself, but which was arguably hampered by the slow pace of progress on implementation of the Quality of Advice Review recommendations.  

“I look forward to referring friends, family and anyone I can talk to this great organisation, knowing that there’s this great continuum of help, guidance, advice, support that they can access. And I sincerely hope that’s a vision that Scott and team can continue to pursue,” he says.  

“The creation of the client well-being division is really the last piece of the puzzle for us as an organisation to orient and focus on the opportunities that provide.” 

‘Don’t waste QAR’ 

He says there is “no doubt” that achieving the goal of a mass-market model would be made easier if the QAR was legislated, urging Insignia and industry peers not to “waste the opportunity” that reform – promised by the Albanese government – may bring.  

The comments came as Insignia reported $95.5 million in underlying profit after tax (UNPAT) for the first half of FY24, but a statutory loss of $49.9 million due to “strategic initiatives and remediation”.

Mota says the result is a reflection of his willingness to “invest” in modernising products and procedures – something he says big banks NAB and ANZ were unwilling to do in the assets Insignia eventually acquired.  

Earnings continued to improve in the troubled advice segment, which added $21.2 million UNPAT for the period but ended in a $0.7 million loss. Revenue was up 3.8 per cent due to Shadforth and Bridges client fee repricing and expenses were down 19.1 per cent as “optimisation benefits” were realised. 

Adviser numbers experienced a 21.4 per cent reduction compared to the previous corresponding period to 1199, due to the sale of Millennium 3, closure of the Lonsdale licence and a round of redundancies within the Bridges salaried advice business.

‘Who wears the risk?’ 

Mota says “organic loss” from the financial advice business was very “modest”. But he acknowledges that the long-term outlook for traditional licensing is more challenged – and unlikely to be a strategic priority for Insignia going forward.