Louise Biti (left) and Ben Marshan

A “worrying trend” has emerged of aged care advice being provided by unlicensed and unregulated businesses, prompting Aged Care Steps to seek industry help to write a policy position to take to government arguing for regulating aged care funding advice.

A consultation paper released by the aged care service provider posits a lack of oversight has led to “a prevalence of superficial, often conflicted advice, no regulatory oversight and a lack of essential consumer protections”, which is putting clients at risk.

“Unlicensed and unregulated advice also opens opportunities for greater incidence of elder abuse,” the paper says.

“This situation underscores the need to reassess the regulatory framework governing aged care advice, ensuring that where financial options and outcomes are considered by an ‘advice provider’, the advice is holistic rather than solely strategic, legally compliant, and consumer-focused.”

Aged Care Steps director Louise Biti tells Professional Planner the aim of the consultation is to get an agreed industry position to put to government to prevent the “proliferation” of unlicensed advice and make sure it is a level playing field.

“Our view is it should be licensed under current legislation and there’s a lot of reasons why we think that should remain so,” Biti says.

Biti notes current regulations provide for professional standards, a requirement to have adequate professional indemnity insurance, and being registered with external dispute resolution services, all of which provide consumer protections and lead to better client outcomes.

However, she notes that regulation has an impact on the cost of advice.

“We also recognise that comes with costs in the delivery of advice and that starts to raise questions about affordability as well,” Biti says.

“What we’re trying to get is an industry standard across, where it fits under current legislation, what could we perhaps change or put forward to government as regulatory change to make it accessible, affordable and also start to regulate those that sit outside the legislation as well and stop some of the practices happening.”