Misha Schubert

The Super Members Council has offered an open apology to the advice profession, saying its reference to “dodgy advisers” has been mischaracterised.

The statement, which Professional Planner publishes in full below, comes a day after CEO Misha Schubert’s comments were referred to several times during Senate hearings on the Delivering Better Financial Outcomes bill.

“The Super Members Council deeply values the role of high-quality qualified financial advisers to help Australians plan for retirement, informed by advice that is in the best interests of super fund members,” Schubert said.

“Disappointingly, some comments I made in a media release earlier this week highlighting ASIC’s recent concerns about a small subset of operators using cold-calling and online clickbait tactics to pressure Australians into moving their super into underperforming products have been mischaracterised.

“The remarks were not intended to be generalised to all financial advisers.

“I regret – and apologise for – any offence that the mischaracterisation of my remarks caused to reputable financial advisers who are working faithfully in the best interests of their clients.

“As crucial reforms to extend access to financial advice with strong consumer protections to many more Australians are considered by the Australian Parliament, we urge everyone to work together to secure the swift passage of these reforms.

“These landmark reforms will ensure millions of Australians can plan confidently for their retirement, informed by reputable financial advice.

“That achievement will powerfully help the 11 million everyday Australians with their retirement savings in profit-to-member super funds in whose interests we advocate.”

Schubert’s original comments first appeared on Tuesday night in article in The Australian, referring to an ASIC report in May that warned about cold-calling operators influencing people to switch super accounts using high-pressure sales tactics, calling for an end to a loophole in the anti-hawking law that didn’t cover “the sale of financial advice”.

The comments were followed by a media release on Wednesday containing the same key talking points and arguing that the current DBFO bill before Parliament should be passed without amendment or delay.

Financial Advice Association chair David Sharpe posted on LinkedIn hours after the hearings closed requesting an apology from the council.

“In a recent media release the SMC made reference to financial advisers as ‘rip-off merchants’ and ‘dodgy’,” Sharpe said.

“It may be this language was meant to apply only to the tiny minority of advisers who do the wrong thing – if so, it wasn’t made clear. I’ll extend the courtesy that this was clumsy rather than deliberate. Regardless, such inflammatory and inaccurate language does nothing to help consumers or anyone else.

“Let’s be clear – the absolute vast majority of financial advice professionals work hard as the financial guardians to protect and grow the financial wellbeing of their clients. Like all professions, there is a very small subset who don’t do the right thing, and we are committed to ensuring they are held to account.”

Sharpe welcomed the apology in a statement on Friday evening.

“I welcome the apology from SMC and thank them for their recognition of the valuable work our profession does,” Sharpe said.

“I also would like to acknowledge the genuine nature of the apology and the commitment to work constructively together into the future.”

Australian Retirement Trust also sent out a media statement on Friday evening to reiterate the importance of it’s adviser relationships.

“The accessibility of affordable, quality advice is a top priority for ART, and we partner with the advice community to deliver this to our members, so they can retire well, with confidence,” ART executive general manager of advice, guidance and education Anne Fuchs said.

“Financial advisers play a key role in helping our members achieve their retirement goals, and we see them as critical to the success of our organisation.

“We believe qualified advisers are trusted professionals in the eyes of working Australians, who as they get older, will need advisers more than ever before.”

One comment on “SMC apologises for ‘dodgy advisers’ comment”
    Chris Cornish

    “The Super Members Council deeply values the role of high-quality qualified financial advisers to help Australians plan for retirement”.
    Is she taking the mickey?
    The terms “high-quality” and “qualified” are not able to be used in conjunction, and are in fact opposites. Stephen Jones labelling under-qualified non- registered call centre staff at a super fund as “qualified advisers” is wrong, as too is the SMC’s attempt to liken these unqualified, non-registered call centre staff as “high-quality”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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