Stephen Jones

The Joint Associations Working Group, made up of a dozen financial services associations, has called for the government “to move swiftly” on the Quality of Advice Review reforms so the “hot mess doesn’t turn into disaster”.

The statement issued on Monday morning comes after a poor response to the government’s QAR Stream One legislation, tabled by the government while Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones was away.

JAWG’s reference to a “hot mess” is a callback to Jones’ own rhetoric about the state of advice reform. On the campaign trail for the 2022 federal election, Jones was a vocal critic of the previous Coalition government’s track record on reform.

The JAWG statement criticised the duplication of processes required for super funds to check every piece of advice, which already undergoes strict compliance protocols and auditing.

“Professional advisers, superannuation trustees and advice licensees have consistently provided the government with suggestions to reduce red tape, make it easier for consumers to access affordable advice, and remove duplication in the adviser fee deduction processes for consumers, advisers, licensees, superannuation funds and their trustees,” the statement said.

“JAWG understands this is a technical area that is hard to get right and is ready to work with the Government to get the best outcome for consumers.”

Professional Planner reported last week when the legislation was tabled that trustees would be required to satisfy themselves that any advice fee deducted from members’ accounts was only for advice wholly or partly in relation to their interest in the super fund. The shoddy drafting of the legislation has since drawn public criticism from at least one super fund, Aware Super.

However, peak bodies representing super funds appeared less worried than the advice associations on the matter.

In a statement to Professional Planner, the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia wouldn’t specify if they agreed the legislation needed to be changed.

“As the voice of super, ASFA has advocated for measures that allow Australians to access the help they need to make good decisions about their retirement income – more often than not, this help will need to be in the form of financial advice,” the statement of behalf of CEO Mary Delahunty said.