Michelle Levy and Stephen Jones at the QAR Roadshow in March 2023.

The initial idea was sound: take a good, hard look at how financial advice is delivered to consumers and come up with some ideas on how to make it more accessible and more affordable.

But right off the bat there were a couple of issues with the underlying premise of the Quality of Advice Review, and these have been compounded by some puzzling recent decisions.

First, setting up a review to make advice more accessible and more affordable presupposes that advice is inaccessible and unaffordable to start with.

Second, a review focused on how to make advice more accessible and more affordable should never have had the term “quality” in its name.

Between the publication of the final report and the tabling of enabling legislation, there have been a couple of missteps.

For example, the idea of creating a “qualified adviser” designation was curious, especially when such individuals would actually be less qualified than existing advisers, despite assurances it will be changed.

More important than the nutty nomenclature, it upset advisers going through the education wringer to learn that someone who hadn’t done nearly as much work as they had and hadn’t made nearly as great a commitment to professionalism as they could nevertheless call themselves “qualified”.

The only other individuals who don’t have to meet the same education standards as everyone else are those advisers with 10 years or more experience. That’s a topic for another occasion.

Then on the issue of allowing advice fees to be deducted from superannuation fund members’ accounts, a bill was tabled that appeared to impose such an admin and compliance burden on funds that some industry players called into question whether funds will choose to simply not provide advice to members at all.

The truly puzzling aspect of this was that the shortcomings of an exposure draft bill had been clearly and loudly pointed out, and the government chose to either ignore or reject submissions that could have quite simply fixed the problem.