The Future of Financial Advice legislation has had the interesting, but increasingly frustrating virtue of resurfacing each time we all think that the debate is over. As a result some of you may be wondering when we can all go back to business as usual.
The latest developments have had us following Parliamentary sessions in Canberra and public hearings of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). We've had a sudden change of Assistant Treasurer, a last-minute legislation freeze and enough statements from all sides of the financial services industry spectrum to fill several bookcases.
Let's forget about all this for a minute. Let's say it's all an enormous amount of political noise that will fade out at some point in the near future.
Ask yourself, has the political debate in the last days changed the way you provide advice?
It probably hasn't.
The removal of clause 7 of subsection 961B(1) of the Corporations Act should not change the way you address the best interests of your clients, as best interest is embedded in the very nature of the professionalism that all advisers should aspire to.
Former High Court judge Sir Anthony Mason said at an SMSF Professionals' Association of Australia (SPAA) conference as far back as 2007 that advisers should aim at the highest standards of professionalism despite consumers' decline in the respect to professional people.
His definition of professionalism is as strong as ever today, seven years and a global financial crisis after:
A professional is the person who "offers a service which he or she is an expert in, and that it is provided for the benefit and in the best interest of the client, and not in the interest of the provider; accepting that the provider receives a remuneration for the service."
The key for the financial planning community to be publicly recognised as a respected profession is not in some obscure subclause of the FoFA legislation, but in the work that you and your business do every day.
There is no magic trick, no button that can be pushed to change consumers' image of financial advice overnight. The only solution is to keep working, day by day, client by client, always keeping the interests of the person sitting in front of you first.
As always, I'd like to know what do you think about this issue. Feel free to express your thoughts in the comments section.