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Abood explains limitations to FPA’s support of QAR

By Keith Ford
21 February 2023 — 3 minute read

The FPA says that while it broadly supports the Quality of Advice Review (QAR), there are areas that require further examination.

The Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA) has been among the organisations to back much of the QAR final report, however, on a recent episode of the ifa podcast, chief executive Sarah Abood explained that there are limits to that support. 

“Overall, we remain supportive of the review, and we remain supportive of the report. That doesn’t mean that we love everything in it or we think it’s entirely perfect. We don’t,” Ms Abood told sister title ifa. 

“We have some suggestions on ways that some of the recommendations I think can be tailored and be made better to achieve the overall goals. And well continue to do that.

“The minister has signalled that he’s keen to hear what the perspectives are on the report. I dont know exactly how thats going to be constructed, but were certainly keen to be involved in that and to put the viewpoints forward that our members are strongly expressing to us.”

She added that FPA members are particularly supportive of the recommendations that are likely to reduce the cost of advice.

“That has a double whammy impact because, of course, it does make advisers’ lives much better. It reduces the cost to do what they do, and the time, and the effort, and the red tape involved in it,” Ms Abood said.

“It also has the impact of lowering the cost to consumers of accessing what we know is the best quality advice that consumers can access.”

What the FPA is wanting to see is quick implementation of elements of the report that have widespread support, while those requiring deeper work are considered further — the latter category encompassing recommendations addressing product issuers. 

“That area is big. We really need to think through how that would play out, and I think that probably requires more time. So, its kind of an impact analysis. Lets do the easy, quick things. Lets do them quickly now and lets do the work that we need to do on the bigger proposals,” Ms Abood said. 

Specifically addressing the possibility of product providers also dispensing advice, Ms Abood said there need to be “guardrails” in place.

“When you read the text of the report, I think in our reviewers mind, what is happening is that many of the activities of large institutions that were previously defined to be general advice are going to be pulled into this new definition of simple personal advice. So, the bar I think in [Michelle] Levys mind is being set higher for those kinds of activities,” she said.

“I think what we need to do is talk about [...] the guardrails that need to be in place to ensure that consumers are very likely to get advice thats good for them and will leave them in a better position. And I think thats a laudable outcome,” Ms Abood added.

“The reality is, many of our members are not set up to, and by and large, are not advising people on small one-off questions like that … As the situation becomes more complex, as their life situation demands full personal advice, they need to talk to an adviser, and they do.”

Ms Abood explained that the FPA would like to see non-relevant providers, providing simple episodic one-off advice, enrolled in a course of study that would potentially lead them to becoming a financial adviser over time. The group would also like to see these providers supervised by a relevant provider who could “play a role in ensuring that that advice is not leading consumers off track”. 

“And that’s our suggestion. Others have had other suggestions,” Ms Abood said.

“The other advantage I see is that this creates a pool of people who have the education over time to become full service financial planners and to provide that broader, more comprehensive advice to consumers over time.

“To my mind, that is desperately needed. Our numbers are way too low. Weve declined over 45 per cent since 2019. We really, really must have more financial advisers to give better outcomes to Australian consumers. So thats one reason why we think this proposal is worth considering and could have multiple advantages.”

Hear more from Ms Abood here.

Abood explains limitations to FPA’s support of QAR
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