19/10/14: Comment: FOFA amendments disallowed


Should you care?

Back in July, the government negotiated a deal with Clive Palmer to save the 'FOFA' (Future of Financial Advice) amendments. However this morning two cross benchers (Senators Lambie and Muir) did an about-face and joined Labor senators opposing the government's FOFA agenda. We can only assume that we will now see the return of FOFA (the'full-strength' version) unless a compromise can be found.

Considering Senator Lambie's recent clashes with PUP leader Clive Palmer, this seems more like a personal grudge, along with a good helping of political naivety. But for better or worse, that's the system we now have.

So exactly what does this mean for you, as a client of a financial adviser? Hysteria and vested interests aside, probably very little.

If you already have a good relationship with a non-aligned financial adviser who provides an efficient and meaningful service to you at a fair price, you won't notice much (or any) change to the way he or she interacts with you.

Let's not forget that FOFA (Labor's full strength version) was introduced almost 18 months ago which, among other things, effectively banned investment commissions and ramped-up disclosure requirements, creating a more transparent, trusting environment for investors, retirees and professional financial advisors alike. And contrary to media reports, this law was welcomed by virtually all concerned, including financial advisors, and continues to this day.

The FOFA amendments or FOFA 'lite' (introduced by the Liberals) sought to reduce some of the new law's excessive 'red-tape' without jeopardising the lion's share of consumer protections. Personally, I thought a regulatory adjustment made some sense, but that's history now.

I've spent over 30 years in financial services and I believe that the vast majority of financial advisers I've known over this time are ethical, educated, well-meaning people who sincerely want the very best for their clients, and to also run profitable practices for themselves, their families, and their employees. That's just good business.

So naturally, it has been disappointing to see the reputations and motives of solid professionals being publicly denigrated during this lengthy, polarising process.

My advice is to ignore the cynics with obvious vested interests. If you're comfortable with your current financial adviser, hold on tight and follow your own instincts, chances are you're in very good hands.

Time to move forward.

Rick Maggi