The Association of Financial Advisers is encouraging advisers to get involved in a grassroots lobbying campaign around the Future of Financial Advice amendments.
“We are calling on our members to support our advocacy work in representing them by asking them to engage personally with their federal elected representatives in both the lower house and the Senate, including those senators that take their seats 1 July,” CEO Brad Fox told Wealth Professional.
“As a professional association we think it is incumbent on us to ensure that our politicians and the public are well informed on all aspects of the FOFA amendments.”
He is encouraging advisers to set up face-to-face meetings with local MPs, in order to properly go through relevant aspects of the amendments – and also AFA’s suggested changes – and what the legislation will mean for advisers and the public.
Fox also believes it is “vitally important” that concerns over consumer protection are addressed.
“Some reports in the mass media are scare-mongering about consumer protections being stripped. That is not the case at all. I think there’s been some carelessness in reporting, and I think it’s important to have a balanced view out there,” he said.
“With the FOFA amendments we will still have the most regulated financial advice framework in the world including a legislated best interests duty that is well defined, understood and enforceable.
“The FOFA changes will also help Australians get better access to practical, affordable financial advice.”
But while most advisers understand the broad aspect of the FOFA changes, the minute detail of the legislation means the practical application is often lost in translation, Fox said.
The AFA hopes to brief around 1400 financial advisers during the annual GenXt National Roadshow – which began last Tuesday and runs until Thursday – on the amendments and legislative framework.
Fox said it is important to “do the heavy lifting at a grassroots level” to make sure the benefits of the announced changes pass through Parliament.
It is “hard to say” whether some FOFA amendments will fail to pass due to advisers not getting involved at the grassroots level, Fox said.
“But it’s important to remember that you need to have your voice heard if you care about something.”
After the AFA makes its final submission on the amendments, due 19 February, it will provide members with an advocacy pack to help them distil their message when communicating with their local politicians, Fox said.
But perhaps not all advisers will be quite so keen to jump in and help.
Connect Financial Service Brokers CEO Paul Tynan thinks enough lobbying has been done towards the FOFA changes.
“I am not naive and it’s there for all to see why all the special interest groups comprising institutions, advisers, associations, fund managers, etcetera, have been so active through their lobbyists and lobbying activities,” he said.
“[It’s] because Australia has a pool of retirement savings of [more than] $1.6 trillion in assets and has the fourth largest fund management industry in the world. So there’s a lot at stake.”