Bernie Ripoll, lead of the eponymous Ripoll Review. Photo Jack Smith.

A decade ago, the phrase on every financial adviser’s lips was “FOFA”. In 2014, two years after the government introduced the first of the Future of Financial Advice reforms, based on the recommendations of the so-called Ripoll Review, the advice industry was taking its first tentative steps towards professionalism.

It’s a path on which the industry has frequently wavered, but which has brought it to a broadly better place than whence it came.

But it’s worth remembering that there were powerful, mostly institutional forces against the new rules that would, among other things, ban commissions on investment and superannuation products as part of a bigger move to eliminate conflicts of interest.

That trek to professionalism continues. But if you think the process around the Quality of Advice Review (reborn as Delivering Better Financial Outcomes) changes is a mess, think back 10 years to the chaos surrounding the FOFA reforms.

The Ripoll Review or, to give it its full title, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services Inquiry into Financial Products and Services in Australia, was delivered in November 2009.

By June 2012 the government had introduced the Corporations Amendment (Future of Financial Advice) Act 2012 and the Corporations Amendment (Further Future of Financial Advice Measures) Act. These amendments ushered in the Best Interests Duty, banned some forms of conflicted remuneration, and introduced the obligation to have clients opt-in to ongoing fee arrangements.

Compliance with the new laws was due to begin in mid-2013. ASIC took a “facilitative approach” to compliance (i.e. a lot of tut-tutting but no enforcement) for 12 months, but by mid-2014 the FOFA changes were really beginning to bite.

Then things started to go haywire.

In March 2014 the government introduced the Corporations Amendment (Streamlining of Future Financial Advice) regulations.