Small planning firms speak up

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Financial planning businesses who feel they’re being unfairly treated by new regulations will get the chance to raise their concerns with industry representatives, senior politicians, bureaucrats and big business at the 2013 NAB National Small Business Summit to be held in Brisbane in July, two months before the Australian federal election.

The Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA) plans to address compliance and regulation demands that are being placed on small planning firms under FoFA. COSBOA executive director Peter Strong said FoFA had been an area of big interest, and an area where they think the government has gone too far in certain places.

He said COSBOA had deep concerns about how FoFA would affect small businesses: “There’s certain areas in FoFA where the changes have been designed for big business not for small, and that’s something we continue to talk about and will talk about at the summit.”

Industry figures present at the summit will include people from the tax office, the ACCC, Treasury; Bill Shorten and the Prime Minister have both been invited. Strong says they will be addressing competition policy and attempting to have burdensome compliance demands removed for small businesses. He said the government needed to realise that regulations for small businesses had to be different to those for big businesses.

“The reason being that we don’t have experts working for us, normally it’s just us and one or two other people doing the job…we do it ourselves, so the way we are communicated with has to be different from the way the Government or anybody communicates with big businesses. There’s only one of us, so you’ve got to make sure we understand what you’re talking about.”

He said small planning firms should join the summit to make sure their concerns were heard by the right people. “Come along and meet with the people that make decisions, but also come and watch the other people that know how to influence decisions …you get to see people around the place who’ve been around for a while and know what they’re doing, so the networking opportunity’s pretty important.”

According to Sean Graham, consultant at Assured Support, the key issues for financial practices (excluding the general "cost of compliance") are:

  • the rising cost of PI Insurance
  • competition from large vertically integrated businesses (how to compete with banks)
  • the steadily increasing educational requirements
  • regulatory risk (including the ASIC and Choice scrutiny of the financial services injury)
  • maintaining profitability in face of GFC, lower confidence, poor market performance and squeeze on traditional (now conflicted) remuneration streams 
  • the disruption of the industry by Industry funds, online models and non-traditional participants

“The ‘burdens’ are in theory borne by everyone, but the application and cost is not the same for institutional firms. In pre-Revolutionary France it was illegal for anyone to sleep under bridges. The law applied equally to everyone, except that aristocrats didn't need to sleep under bridges.”

The summit will be held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on Wednesday 24 and Thursday 25 July.