Aligned vs non-aligned: We’re all the same

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Financial planning is fast becoming a recognised profession, and the enshrinement of the terms financial planner and adviser are one of the vital steps.

According to Ipac WA CEO Patrick Canion, “It’s one of those steps that might seem quite insignificant, but will prove to be the acorn that grew into the oak tree.” However, Canion says that the enshrinement is still to be passed by Senate, and is excited for this step.

Canion moved to Australia from Texas at the age of ten, and the hint of a southern twang is still noticeable in his voice. He started in the life industry for National Mutual at age 19 and had two weeks to learn the ropes before he was thrown on the line to take incoming calls.

They became part of the company that turned into Ipac in 1997. Canion was a CFP but says he thought ‘I want to advise business owners and I want to advise professionals but why would they listen to me if they’re better qualified than I am’? So he got his Masters and now specialises in clients who are business owners, and says he “helps to make peoples’ dreams come true”.

Canion says the enshrinement of the term shows that "the Parliament of Australia has said this is an important role in the lives of all Australians and it's importnat enough to be defined by law". He says that it will raise the requirements of all advisers, regardless of who they work for, and says to the community that financial planning is no longer a 'nice-to-have' or 'luxury' item.

The next important step for Canion is to have peer accountability. Just as lawyers, accountants and doctors are accountable to their peers for their conduct, he believes that being part of a professional association will ensure greater accountability in the advice profession.

“The regulator’s under resourced… clients don’t always recognise poor advice when they see it, but an adviser knows.”

The thing Canion says he doesn't like is "how so many financial planners want to drag down other financial planners, or criticise or bag them.”

Canion says that an individual planner of an industry super fund or bank is able fulfil commercial obligations of their employer without compromising the best interests of the client. He says planners need to learn to separate an individual planner’s professional integrity and accountability from the potential commercial conflicts that a shareholder in that business might have.

“Industry super funds almost without exception have the highest proportion of Certified Financial Planners amongst their ranks. They might have a limited approved product list but to bag the industry super funds because they’re industry super funds and to bag the planners that are employed by them, is the height of arrogance to my mind.”