Andrew Gregory

UniSuper sees qualified advisers being beneficial to the fund – and advantageous to the overall advice landscape – but expects its holistic advice service to handle complex needs for members.

The fund’s head of advice and education Andrew Gregory said qualified advisers will help solve advice for the “missing middle” of Australians.

“There is something here that is more of a complement than it is a conflict,” Gregory said in a panel session at the Stockbrokers and Investment Advisers Association Conference in Melbourne.

Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones unveiled a two-tiered advice model last year as part of the government’s response to the Quality of Advice Review, but drew swift rebuke from the industry over the “qualified adviser” name, which the minister has since conceded could change.

In addition to the controversial moniker, the industry has also raised concerns over the boundaries for what advice qualified advisers will be permitted to give.

Gregory will feature in a panel discussion at the Professional Planner Licensee Summit on 18-19 June, alongside Australian Retirement Trust head of advice Anne Fuchs and Industry Fund Services executive manager for advice solutions Adrian Gervasoni, about the role of superannuation funds in delivering financial advice, and the opportunities for financial advisers and licensees to work with them.

Gregory said there is a role for qualified advisers to help delivery of simple strategies, such as retirement income or transition to retirement strategies, where there is a reliance on a digital advice engine subject to the Best Interests Duty, that are delivered through collective charging and which could be self-service or hybrid advice.

“If there is complexity or vulnerability in the way that a member might translate that information, they’ve got a resource like a qualified adviser to translate that advice with them,” Gregory said.

“We’re quite excited about this actually. I see a lot of potential in a business model like ours for the delivering of personal advice to a member through that mechanism and it’s a very basic option.”

At the moment, Gregory noted, UniSuper is providing general advice that can’t take into account personal information, which he expected qualified advisers would have more flexibility with, along with clear guardrails for doing so.

“If there are any risks [of] straddling into areas where a comprehensive question might be more appropriate, we’ve got a very clear handover,” Gregory said.

UniSuper has grown to be a $135 billion fund, which Gregory said was 70 per cent managed in- house, and has achieved organic inflows of $4 billion in the last year.

Gregory, the former CEO of boutique firm Arrow Private Wealth and general manager at MLC Advice, joined the fund in late 2022.

“It’s quite a strong fund to be in and what I’m loving most about it is that advice is central to the purpose of the fund,” Gregory said.

“We had a decision made with the executive [team] and board last year…that one of the core capabilities would be advice and education because of our core belief in personalisation and the uniqueness of the membership that we also have within UniSuper.”

UniSuper’s advice team has 165 staff with $25 billion in funds under advice, and 36,000 members that have paid to receive financial advice.

“Advice in UniSuper is a big business,” Gregory said.